Are you wondering which airlines accept psychiatric service dogs (PSD)? The great news is that if you’re flying domestically within the United States or between the U.S. and an international destination, then your service dog must be allowed to board free of charge. 

If you have a psychiatric service dog, flying with one in the cabin may be easier than you think. U.S. disability and transportation laws protect passengers that need a service dog. This guide will tell you what you should know if you are thinking about flying with a psychiatric service dog. 

If you are interested in a Psychiatric Service Dog Letter, we can connect you with a licensed healthcare provider.

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Which Airlines Accept Psychiatric Service Dogs?

Most airlines have strict rules when it comes to animals on flights. Airlines will generally allow your dog to board, but only if it can fit in a small carrier bag and after paying a hefty fee. There are many limitations regarding pets that prevent dog owners from flying with their furry friends. 

Regardless of these restrictions on pets, all U.S. airlines and flights to or form the U.S. must accept psychiatric service dogs on flights. Furthermore, psychiatric service dogs are not subject to the size limitations and fees applicable to pets.  

Psychiatric service dogs get special treatment because they are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act and regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Under these laws, people with psychiatric disabilities who need a service dog’s assistance have special rights during air travel.  

What Do You Need To Do To Fly With a Psychiatric Service Dog?

In 2021 the U.S. Department of Transportation streamlined the process of flying with service animals. If you are flying with a psychiatric service dog, you must submit the DOT’s Service Animal Air Transportation Form to the airline prior to boarding. 

The DOT Form requires the owner of a PSD to make various self-certifications regarding their eligibility for a service dog. For a complete guide on completing the DOT Form, please visit this link

Each airline will have their own process for accepting the DOT Form. For example, some request the form be sent to a specific email address, while others have a dedicated link to submit the form.

For information on flying with a service dog for your particular airline, please see the links below:

Who Qualifies For a Psychiatric Service Dog?

To qualify for a psychiatric service dog, you must have a mental health disability. That can include conditions like severe anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or a learning disability. 

A licensed mental health professional is the best person to talk to about your mental health and whether you meet the relevant criteria. Many PSD owners obtain PSD letters from their healthcare professionals for added assurance and peace of mind.

How to Get your Psychiatric Service Dog Letter from ESA Doctors:

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PSD owners must represent on the DOT Form that they have a service dog for an eligible disability. There can be legal consequences for lying on the form so you should be 100% sure about your service dog eligibility before signing it. A PSD letter can help with being confident about this part of the process. 

Another important requirement to be aware of as a PSD owner relates to the dog’s training, as we’ll discuss in the next section. 

Psychiatric Service Dog Training Requirements

A dog is not considered a service animal until it has fully completed the necessary training. To qualify as a service animal, a dog must perform at least one job or task relating to the handler’s disability. 

For psychiatric service dogs, this can include tasks like the following:

  • Retrieve essential medications. 
  • Lick or paw their handler to provide comfort during moments of crisis.
  • Interrupt dissociative episodes or self-destructive behaviors. 
  • Remind their handler to perform important daily tasks. 
  • Use deep pressure therapy (DTP) to calm their handler. 
  • Provide a buffer against triggering external stimuli. 

In addition, all service dogs must be capable of being taken into public spaces like airports without causing any disruption. A psychiatric service dog can be removed from the airport or airplane if it exhibits aggression or is out of control. 

Airline staff may ask for your dog to be removed if, for example, your dog is barking excessively without provocation, not responding to your commands, relieving itself in inappropriate areas, or lunging at other passengers. A psychiatric service dog must be under the control of its handler at all times. 

Airplanes at the airport
Before flying with a psychiatric service dog, familiarize yourself with the airline’s service animal policy.

Can Emotional Support Animals Still Board an Airplane? 

Emotional support animals are longer accommodated on flights. They are treated as normal pets and subject to the airline’s rules and restrictions for pets. That means if you have an ESA that is on the larger side, it will not be able to board the cabin. 

Some ESA owners may qualify for a psychiatric service dog. The key is if their dog performs a job or task that helps with their disability. An ESA can be trained to become a PSD if there is a need for a task or job to be performed. 

Unfortunately, ESA owners with cats, birds, rodents, or other non-dog animals are out of luck; only dogs can become psychiatric service animals. 

Final Thoughts

If you are flying domestically within the U.S. or flying between the U.S. and an international destination, you can be confident that your airline is subject to the DOT’s rules for service dogs. However, flying with a PSD does take some preparation. 

The most important requirement is to complete the DOT Form prior to your flight and submit it to your airline on time. All U.S. airlines must accept this form and accommodate your service dog if you meet the necessary qualifications. 

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