Airlines are tightening regulations for traveling with an Emotional Support Animal. Although the media makes it seem like a bad thing for ESA handlers, that is far from the truth. These rules only make it easier for passengers to travel with their ESA if they have a legitimate ESA letter.

Part #1 – What is an ESA?

An Emotional Support Animal is an animal that provides love, comfort, and of course emotional support to their handler.

Emotional support animals are not specially trained to provide a service. They are allowed on planes and homes, but not in stores or restaurants.

ESAs are not required to perform a special task but they do need to be well behaved. Before you travel with your ESA, make sure they are able to perform the following commands –

  1. Sit – Sit on demand and wait for release
  2. Down – Will lay down underneath handler’s legs or by their side
  3. Leave it – Will not lunge or bark at other dogs or humans, unless provoked

How is This Different Than a Certified Service Dog?

A certified Service Dog and an Emotional Support Animal are both considered assistance animals. Unfortunately, many people get these two types of assistance animals confused and often mistake emotional support animals as fake Service Dogs. Service Dogs are trained to perform tasks that aid in their handler’s disability. A certified Service Dog does not require a doctor’s note in order to travel with their handler.

What is an ESA letter?

An ESA letter is a recommendation note written by a licensed therapist. The therapist helping you should specialize in animal therapy. The reason? For an ESA letter to be enforceable, it must contain specific language. To qualify for an ESA letter online, you may complete the ESA questionnaire by clicking the image below.

how to get ESA letter

Complete the questionnaire to qualify for your ESA letter online.

If you are currently seeing a therapist, we recommend requesting an ESA letter from them directly. If your therapist specializes in animal therapy, they will be well aware of all the requirements. However, if your therapist is unaware of ESA regulations or does not believe in animal therapy, you may submit your request for an ESA letter through the link above. They will pair you with a therapist who is well versed in ESA regulations.

Part #2 – Summary of the Airlines’ New ESA Policy

Delta, United, and American Airlines now requires additional documentation when flying with an emotional support animal.

Delta, United, and American Airlines now requires additional documentation when flying with an emotional support animal.

Delta Airlines New Emotional Support Animal Policy

Delta requires a new form with three sections in addition to your ESA letter.

  1. Veterinarian must complete the first section
  2. Licensed mental health professional must complete the second section
  3. You must confirm your ESA’s training in the third section

United Airlines New Emotional Support Animal Policy

United requires a form completed by a therapist in addition to your ESA letter. They also now require a note from your veterinarian.

American Airlines New Emotional Support Animal Policy

American Airlines policy has not changed as of February 2018, although their representatives state they are looking into adjusting their policy. We will keep you updated once American announces their new policy.

Will my ESA be Rejected?

If you have the proper documentation prepared and delivered to the airlines ahead of time, you will not be rejected.

DO NOT Register your dog as an ESA. Airlines will not accept your ESA registration. You must have a legitimate ESA letter in order to fly.

DO NOT Register your dog as an ESA. Airlines will not accept your ESA registration. You must have a legitimate ESA letter in order to fly.

Even if your pet is acting as your Emotional Support Animal, you will be turned away at the airport if you do not have the appropriate documentation. ESA registration papers or ID are not accepted by any airline and you will be turned away. You must have a legitimate ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.

If your ESA is causing a disturbance or displays aggression to the other passengers and/or crew, the airline has a right to deny access even if you have an ESA letter. Before you show up at the airport, make sure your ESA is within your control and follows your commands. Single instances of abuse, see the Peacock incident, causes widespread negativity against all ESA handlers.

Part #3 – Understanding Reasonable Accommodations

What is the ACAA?

Emotional Support Animals are granted travel access by the Air Carrier Access Act. The ACAA prevents airlines from denying access to those with disabilities and must grant the individual with reasonable accommodations. Since an ESA is not considered a pet, they are therefore granted access to travel with their handler. This is why the airlines cannot charge a pet fee or deny access based on age, breed, or weight.

Airlines do not charge additional fees for emotional support animals. You are not required to purchase an additional seat or stow your animal in the cargo hold.

Airlines do not charge additional fees for emotional support animals. You are not required to purchase an additional seat or stow your animal in the cargo hold.

What is considered Reasonable Accommodations?

The airlines are only required to grant access if your request meets reasonable accommodation standards.

Below are examples of requests that fall within reasonable accommodations –

  • A large emotional support dog
  • Two small emotional support dogs or cats
  • A chicken or bird
  • Miniature horse

Below are examples that do not fall within reasonable accommodations –

  • 3+ large emotional support dogs
  • Animals that are not permitted by local authorities
  • Peacocks
  • A large horse
  • Snakes

Regardless, you should always contact the airline ahead of time to confirm their policies. It is better to check and be prepared than to be rejected at the airport.

Part #4 – Can I Qualify for an ESA Letter Online?

Yes, you can qualify for a legitimate ESA letter online through ESA Doctors. ESA Doctors is a technology firm that helps connect clients with therapists in the United States and Canada. They are expanding to Europe and Mexico as well. ESA Doctors only works with licensed therapists who are pre-approved by the airlines and are in good standing with their state board.

how to get ESA letter

Complete the questionnaire to qualify for your ESA letter online.

Be wary of online companies offering instant approval or discounted referrals. A fake ESA letter could cost you hundreds of dollars and cause you to miss your flight. If your ESA is rejected at the airport and you cannot board the flight, you will not be issued a refund for your ticket.

Can ESA Doctors Help Me with the New Airline Forms?

Yes. If you qualify for an ESA letter through ESA Doctors, you may request that your therapist complete your airline’s ESA form. Complete the ESA questionnaire below and select the “additional document” option. This will allow your therapist to know that you will require an airline form in addition to your ESA letter.

Qualify for an emotional support animal today.

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