If you become disabled, your world changes, not only for you physically or mentally but in many other aspects of your day-to-day living. Having an assistance animal may mean the difference between living a decent life and living a life of pain.
Fortunately, government agencies recognize that individuals coping with the challenges of a condition may need a helping hand. For that reason, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) has been established. The Air Carrier Access Act allows people with mental disabilities to fly with their emotional support animals, free of charge and in-cabin.
Let’s take a closer look into these both to understand what they entail and the difference between the Air Carrier Access Act and the ADA. If you feel that you could benefit from living and traveling with an emotional support animal, complete the questionnaire in the link below to get started.
If you feel that you could benefit from living and traveling with an emotional support animal, complete the questionnaire in the link below to get started.
The Air Carrier Access Act and Emotional Support Animals
The ACAA opened the way for disabled passengers to fly with their assistance animals without having to pay additional pet fees. The airlines were also required to allow emotional support animals to fly in the cabin of the airplane with their owners.
In 1986 Congress passed the Air Carrier Access Act, which required the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop new regulations. These regulations (published in 1990) ensured individuals with disabilities would be treated without discrimination in a way consistent with the safe carriage of all passengers.
The ACAA opened the way for disabled passengers to fly with their assistance animals without having to pay additional pet fees. The airlines were also required to allow emotional support animals to fly in the cabin of the airplane with their owners. This has allowed disabled travelers to bypass transporting their animals in the dangerous cargo hold of planes. (Dozens of animals were either lost, injured, or found dead in 2017.)
The ACAA is a major stride in improving air travel for disabled persons. The rules clearly explain the responsibilities of all those involved (traveler, the carriers, the airport operators, and contractors).
The Air Carrier Access rules are designed to minimize the special problems that travelers with disabilities face as they negotiate their way through the complex air travel system (moving over one million passengers each day) from one place to another.
How the ACAA Has Helped
Since its start (with many updates throughout the years) the Air Carrier Access Act has helped in many situations. These include;
- Recognizing that certain physical barriers can often be overcome by employing simple changes in layout and technology.
- Adopting the principle that many difficulties confronting passengers with hearing or vision impairments will be relieved if they are provided access to the same information that is available to all other passengers.
- Training of all air travel personnel who come in daily contact with persons with disabilities, to understand their needs and how they can be accommodated quickly, safely, and with dignity.
ACAA Rules & Regulations for Emotional Support Animal Owners
Like all organizations, there are rules and regulations implemented for the betterment of the Act.
- A carrier may not refuse transportation to a passenger solely on the basis of a disability.
- The carrier may not limit the number of individuals with disabilities on a particular flight.
- All trip information that is made available to other passengers must also be made available to passengers with disabilities.
- Carriers must provide passage to an individual who has a disability that may affect his or her appearance or involuntary behavior, even if this disability may offend, annoy, or be an inconvenience to crew-members or other passengers.
The main job of the ACAA is to ensure that people with disabilities traveling by air are treated with the utmost respect and care to ensure a safe and satisfactory flight.
Documentation Required for Emotional Support Animals
In order to qualify your pet as an emotional support animal, you must have the correct documents stating your need for an emotional support animal. An ESA letter written within one year by a licensed health professional will allow you to fly with your animal in cabin of any airline traveling within the United States and abroad. You will have to provide additional documents for some airlines. You can find the requirements for each airline here: https://esadoctors.com/airline-emotional-support-animal-pet-policies/.
ESA Letter Requirements for Air Travel
- Written within one year of the days you are traveling
- Written on the official letterhead of a licensed health professional
- The letter must include the date it was written, your health professional’s license number, and type of license
- Some airlines may require extra documents in addition to your ESA letter – check here to see if your airline is one of them
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA was put into effect in 1990. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. These include;
- State and local government services
- All other public and private places that are open to the general public (i.e., housing).
The purpose of the ADA is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else (similar to those laws provided on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion).
Unlike the ACAA (which only covers air travel), the Americans with Disabilities Act covers all areas of life.
What is considered a disability?
According to the ADA, a person is considered disabled when he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity, or is a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.
If you have a disability, then the Air Carrier Access Act will ensure you are treated with respect when traveling with an emotional support animal by airplane. The Americans with Disabilities Act, on the other hand, has been put in place to protect the rights of the disabled individual in all areas of employment, housing, and life.
Qualify for your ESA travel letter today!
Get the Love and Support you deserve.
You may find the links below helpful: