Traveling with your emotional support animal without any additional fee or costs is allowed by airline carriers if you have an ESA letter. However, you have to comply with some requirements. All airlines require your ESA to be well behaved in public and calm on the plane. You can get an at home dog training guide and train your dog yourself in no time. This will not only save money but also ensure you have a pleasant experience flying with your dog.
Go over this list for each airline so you can prepare ahead and avoid any hitches when you check into your flight. If you do not have an ESA letter yet, click on the link below to see if you may qualify.
American Airlines acknowledges the needs of an individual who requires an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal. The company requires supporting documents to facilitate the request, such as an ESA travel letter issued within the year of travel.
The documentation must come from a licensed mental health professional or a medical doctor, with the following details as per the American Airlines site.
- That you have a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
- That you need the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at your destination
- That the individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor
- The date and type of the mental health professional or medical doctor’s license and the state or other jurisdiction where it was issued
The documentation should be given to the airline at least two days before the scheduled flight or else the emotional support animal would have to be checked into a kennel in the compartment during the flight.
Delta Airlines recommends an early notification about traveling with animals when booking reservations and you can already request for a seat assignment while doing so. The animal, however, will be required to stay on the floor beside the individual’s seat. As stated in the company’s site, “No animals are allowed to occupy seats that are designed for passengers.”
The airline expects the emotional support animal to be well-behaved and will need documentation from the individual before travel. Specifically, the letter must have the following, per the company site:
- Title, license number and jurisdiction (state/country it was issued), phone number, and signature of mental health professional.
- The passenger has a mental health related disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – 4th Edition.
- That the passenger needs the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger’s destination.
- That the person listed in the letter is under the care of the assessing physician or mental health professional.
Delta Airlines can consider a digital letter (ESADoctors.com provides this to clients) saved on a device, as long as this has the information above.
Jet Blue Airlines
As with other airlines, Jet Blue’s requirements for ESA travel is a documentation that has the following, per the company website:
- The customer has a mental health-related disability.
- The animal accompanying the customer is necessary to the customer’s mental health.
- The number and type of animal(s)
- The individual providing the assessment of the customer is a licensed mental health professional or physician and the customer is under his or her professional care.
- The mental health professional’s or physician’s license number OR the type of license, the issue date and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued
The letter must also not be over one year old from date of travel and it must include the traveler’s confirmation number for easy reference.
Southwest Airlines allow for travel of emotional support animals within the cabin, except for destinations to Jamaica. The company also needs a travel letter from a licensed mental health doctor with the following details, as stated on the Southwest Airlines documentation guidelines:
- The passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM IV)
- The passenger needs the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger’s destination
- The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional, and the passenger is under his or her professional care
- The date and type of the mental health professional’s or medical doctor’s license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued.
United Airlines also require documentation similar to other companies. However, the airline has some rules as to where the animal should be within the aircraft’s cabin. Specifically, “an animal should sit at the customer’s feet without protruding into the aisles to comply with safety regulations. Customers may elect to use an approved in-cabin kennel for smaller animals. Exit row seating is prohibited,” as per the website.
United Airlines request that the travel documents and other arrangement must be advised at least 48-hours before the flight.
Virgin America’s policy on documentation for travelers with ESA is standard and as with the rest, this should be issued not more than a year old before traveling. It must also be written by a licensed medical professional, as posted on Virgin America’s site (now part of Alaska Air).
The documentation must ascertain that:
- That the guest has a mental health-related disability; and
- That having the animal accompany the guest is necessary for the guest’s mental health, treatment, or to assist the guest (with his or her disability); and
- That the individual providing the assessment of the guest is a licensed mental health professional; and
- That the guest is under the care of the individual providing the documentation.
The airline also requires a health certificate before the individual is to travel with his pet in Hawaii. It should be valid for at least 30 days from the date of travel.
To see if you qualify for an ESA letter:
Disclaimer: Our content is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. Policies can change and companies can alter their rules and regulations. It is very important to do your own analysis and research before booking any flights.