Due to changes in air travel laws, U.S. airlines no longer recognize emotional support animals. While ESAs are no longer allowed to fly, qualified service dogs, including psychiatric service dogs, are still allowed to board flights.

For a guide to the newer procedures on flying with an assistance dog, please click here and here.

The information below is no longer accurate and is retained solely for archival purposes.

Effective March 2018, Delta will request their clients to submit a special form requesting access for their Emotional Support Animals. Despite the bad press, Delta’s new policy is a step in the right direction for Emotional Support Animal Handlers.

Before we dive into the adjustment, it is important to clearly understand ESA regulations.

What is an ESA?

Delta Airlines ESA Dog

Photo Credit: Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin)

An Emotional Support Animal or Emotional Support Dog is an assistance animal that provides comfort to their handler. An Emotional Support Dog, unlike a certified Service Dog, does not require special task training but needs to be well behaved.

Delta’s new Emotional Support Animal policy requires the handler to confirm that their ESA is trained. To ensure your ESA meets these requirements you can train your ESA to complete the drills below.

  1. Sit on command
  2. Stay on your hip despite distractions such as food
  3. Lay beneath your legs and not in the aisle way
  4. Refrain from barking

How Do I Qualify My Dog as an ESA?

how to get an esa letter

Although your dog may already be working as your ESA, you need to make it official. To qualify your pet dog as an official emotional support animal, you need an ESA Perscription Letter from a licensed therapist. If you do not have an ESA letter, Delta and the other airlines will not allow your dog on the plane. If you have an ESA letter, even larger dogs, and bully breeds will be granted access.

An added benefit? There are no fees to travel with your ESA.

What is an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is a recommendation note written by a mental health professional. An ESA Letter must be written by a therapist who is well versed in Emotional Support Animal regulations. If your therapist does not believe in animal therapy or is unaware of ESA laws, you may contact ESADoctors for support. ESADoctors will pair you with a therapist who can support you.

Emotional Support Animals are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act. All 50 States must respect and follow the regulations set out by the ACAA.

What is Delta’s New Emotional Support Animal Form?

Delta ESA Form

The new Delta Airlines ESA form must be filled out by a licensed therapist.

Delta’s new form has three different parts. You can find the new forms here.

Part #1 – Verify your ESA is in good health

This should always be done even if you are not flying with Delta. Flying can be stressful for your ESA so it important that you check that your pet can fly safely. It is important that you take care of them since they take good care of you. This part must be filled out by a veterinarian.

Part #2 – Verify your therapist recommends you for an ESA

United Airlines and American Airlines requires a form similar to the new Delta Airlines form. The reason they request this form is to help them streamline all ESA requests. This part must be filled out by a licensed therapist.

Part #3 – Verify your ESA is well behaved and will not hurt the other passengers

You should never fly with an ESA you do not have control over. Not only is that damaging to other passengers, but you could also hurt other ESA handlers. You must fill out this part of the form.

Can I Qualify for an ESA Letter Online and Fly with Delta?

Yes, you can qualify for an ESA letter online. However, be careful who you choose to trust and work with. Be wary of sites offering ESA registration or instant approvals. Qualifying for an ESA letter can take up to a few business days.

If a company is offering “instant” approval, there is a good chance that you will be turned away at the airport. Take the time and make sure you work with a referral company that helps you qualify for a legitimate ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.

Start now to qualify for an ESA letter today.


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