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Flying With An Emotional Support Animal (ESA): Everything You Need To Know About

Welcome to the age of Emotional support animals where anything from pigs, dogs, and cats are now a common sight on airplanes. However, this age is slowly coming to an end, as most major airlines start the crackdown on which animals can fly and how. In the past, passengers were allowed to tag just about any animal on board for no extra fee. You only needed a physician’s note declaring it an emotional support animal. As of December 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation scraped away that guideline. This means you need to plan if you’re planning to fly with any other support companion. To clarify this, let’s break it down further down below.

Have That Paper

When you get into the world of ESA, you need to have all your documents together up to the last copy. This is the hallmark for anyone traveling with an ESA. To put it in another way – you are not going anywhere if you don’t have the requisite documents! Now, the next part is essential, so pay attention. To travel with an ESA, you need to work with a company that provides legit online ESA letters and your ESA letter needs to meet specific requirements to be considered legitimate. More importantly, the exact requirements will be used to guarantee your entry into an aircraft. The bottom line: ensure you have your ESA letter with you. Also, it should be issued from a licensed ESA company.

Some Airlines Have Restrictions for Large Pets

Factors like your ESA’s size and age may affect whether you can bring it in the cargo or the cabin. In most cases, dogs and cats will need to be of a particular age. What’s more, their kennel needs to have specific dimensions: This ensures the kennel can fit under the seat. You may be required to purchase an extra ticket if you have more than one pet in some cases. If your ESA cannot fit under the seat or isn’t allowed in the cabin, you may need to contact your airline for special arrangements. Most airlines have different policies for how you should book or schedule your ESA for shipment, so remember to check them out.

Be Aware of Breed Restrictions

Most airlines have restrictions on which animals they allow on board. So, if you’re planning to travel with your companion, remember to check your airline’s specific policies. For instance, Delta allows some birds, American permits cats, and dogs, and Alaska doesn’t mind rabbits. Also, most airlines restrict certain breeds of animals for the safety of other pets and passengers. For example, Alaska and American ESA policies restrict short-nosed breeds like pit bulls, Himalayan cats, or pugs in the cargo because of breathing concerns. Nonetheless, you can still travel with your ESA in the cabin so long as their kennel fits under your seat. But there’s a catch for this type of arrangement: you need to pay an extra fee.

What About International Travel

If you’re planning to travel with your ESA, it’s essential to understand the differences between international and domestic travel. Remember, an international flight is longer compared to local travel. This means you need to make arrangements such as how your animal will relieve itself. To put it another way, airplanes don’t have bathrooms for your animal to use. So, where does this leave you and your companion? You’ll need to train your animal to hold its poo/pee during the flight, or it can still do so in the carrier without causing discomfort to other passengers. Sometimes, the country you’re flying to may also have harsh restrictions for ESA’s or may not even allow them at all. For instance, destinations like London. Scotland, New Zealand, and Hong Kong require more work when flying with an ESA.

Your Animals Behavior also Matters

Yes, your animal is your dearest friend and an excellent companion. Of course, airline staff understand this too. However, an airline may refuse transportation of an emotional support animal if it engages in aggressive or disruptive behavior. Such behavior includes but is not limited to:

  • Biting
  • Growling
  • Relieving themselves in the cabin area
  • Barks aggressively without any cause.
  • Jumping on passengers, attendants, or staff.

Ensure your animal is well-trained. You wouldn’t want to leave it behind, or even ruin someone else’s flight because of its behavior.

There you have it! The general rules you need to know about ESA’s. Also, if your emotional support animal isn’t a certified dog assisting you with a specific disability, you’ll need to pay an extra fee for it to come on board. This is essential to understand, especially if you’re flying with major airlines such as American or Alaska.

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