Are you planning a vacation or want to go visit your parents in a different city?
Worried about how you will function without your emotional support animal?
The good news is, you do not have to live and travel without your support animal. American Airlines allows service and emotional support animals to fly in their cabin. However, they do have some requirements and restrictions.
Knowing about them is essential when planning to travel with your animal. Here, we have mentioned and explained all the guidelines that are given by the said airline.
Taking Your Pet on American Airlines Flight
The flexible American Airlines Pet Policy for emotional support animals allows pets and ESAs to accompany their owners on the flight. The American Airlines Policy enables pets, service animals, or ESA to be transported via American Airlines Cargo, or accompany you in the cabin.
However, the traveling cost and requirements differ for each of them.
According to their policies within the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central, and South America, the transportation cost of a checked pet is $125 per carrier. But, the combined weight for the carrier and the pet must not exceed 45 kg (100 lbs.)
Service animals and emotional support animals owners can travel with their reasonably sized well-mannered cat or dog within the airplane’s cabin. All they need is a valid emotional support animal letter and a good pet carrier that can adjust under their seat. The rule is applicable to both dogs and cats.
What You Need to Know Before Travelling with your ESA
If you are an emotional support animal owner, you must be aware of the laws that protect you and your ESA. The Air Carrier Access Act is one of them as it helps you fly with your emotional support animal without any hassle or stress.
However, there are certain responsibilities on your part as well. On July 1st, 2018, a regulation was passed that any passenger who wants to travel with their ESA needs to sign a form. It should state that their ESA is well-behaved and wouldn’t pose a threat to other passengers or the staff.
Here are the three forms that you will need before departure when flying with American Airlines:
- An emotional support animal (ESA) letter – a prescription form from a licensed mental health professional stating your need for an ESA. Some companies may try to lure you to get emotional support animal registration but please be aware that no such ‘registration’ is needed by law.
- A behavior form that claims that your ESA dog is trained properly and won’t display aggressive behavior on the flight or airport.
- A health certificate or a vaccination record form that states that your animal is healthy and is vaccinated adequately
- An additional animal sanitation form is needed if your flight is over 8 hours.
To avoid any hassle, it is required that you send out the completed forms to the American Airlines Special Assistance desk. Note that advanced notice is necessary. These forms must be sent out 48 hours before your flight.
In case you are traveling with your ESA and don’t have your letter, you can acquire one from the licensed mental health professionals at RealESALetter.com.
Fill out this simple questionnaire and get the process started!
Types of Emotional Support Animals Allowed on American Airlines
The American Airlines Pet and ESA policy were updated in April 2019. The update states that the airlines will only allow emotional support cats and dogs in the cabin. This holds true for pets and psychiatric service dogs and animals too. For an emotional support animal cat or any other animal, you will need to have a valid ESA letter.
Additionally, flying animals like pigeons and parrots are also not allowed on flights.
Breeds That Are Not Allowed
While the airline has allowed cats and dogs to fly, there still are certain restrictions on the breed. Short-nosed or snub-nosed cats and dog breeds are not allowed.
If your cat is of the following breed it might not be allowed to fly:
Cats (Burmese, Himalayan, Persian, Exotic Shorthair)
List of dogs that are prohibited from flying:
Dogs (Affenpinscher, Boston Terrier, Boxer, English Toy Spaniel, Brussels Griffon, Dogue De Bordeaux, Bulldog, Japanese Chin)
However, not every animal is allowed on planes according to airline policies. There are some emotional support animals on the no-fly list that can be a possible threat to other passengers.
In case your ESA isn’t mentioned in the list, it is advisable that you call American Airlines for more information.
Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal: Requirements
Here are the requirements for traveling with an emotional support animal by air:
- You can’t travel with more than one emotional support or psychiatric service animal and need to have a service animal certification for it.
- You can only have a cat or dog as an emotional support animal. Trained miniature horses are allowed only as service animals.
- Your ESA must be four months or older and fully vaccinated.
- No foul odor or aggressive behavior (biting, growling, jumping on people) should be displayed by the animal.
- If you want your ESA on your lap, make sure that they aren’t bigger than a two-year-old child. If you are traveling with the animal in the kennel, it must fit properly under the seat in front of you.
ESA Requirements in the Cabin
In order to have your ESA or psychiatric service animals next to you on the plane, there are certain rules that must be followed.
These rules include:
- Your four-legged friend must be able to fit under the seat, sit at your feet or on your lap.
- Your companion must be under control at all times, well-behaved and well-groomed.
- In case your ESA is too big in size to fit in front of your seat, you can request bulkhead seating.
- Your ESA must not block the way of the aisle.
- You will not be seated in an exit row.
- They must not eat from the tray tables.
Traveling Internationally: ESA Restrictions
Unfortunately, emotional support animals can't travel all over the world.
There are certain destinations where emotional support animal restrictions do apply. For instance, if you are traveling to:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- Edinburgh Scotland
- Saint Vincent
It is better that you check the guidelines specific to your destination in order to avoid any trouble at the airport. Most of these places require the owners to check with the Animal Quarantine Service of the respective place at least 40 hours beforehand.
Steps When Traveling via American Airlines
When you decide to travel with American Airlines, while booking, it is best to let them know about your ESA/service animal. So, they can make necessary arrangements and equipment if needed. If you fail to do so, your ESA might be kenneled and put into the cargo hold.
Secondly, download their forms and documents. If you are under 18, the forms must be signed by a parent or legal guardian.
Send the documents 48 hours before the flight and you must have all the documents with you during the trip as well.
How to Prepare Your ESA for the Flight?
In order to avoid unnecessary stress of your ESA running off, not standing still, or displaying unwanted behavior, it is best that you prepare them for the flight beforehand. Though emotional support animals aren’t required to go through specific training, it is better for your own convenience that you either arrange for your emotional support dog training or train them yourself for such situations.
- You must teach your dog to behave well in public and on the plane.
- No barking or growling at people.
- Staying still until you tell them otherwise.
- They should obey your commands.
Make sure that your ESA is under control, or you might be denied boarding. It is also useful to put a tag on your ESA, identifying them as a support animal, saying “no-petting.” This will stop random people from coming up to your pet, making them distracted. Or you can take help from your veterinarian for traveling safely with your ESA.
Remember to look up all the information necessary regarding your ESA, destination, and requirements. Most importantly, don’t forget to keep the required documentation with you. There are many scammers out there who trick people into buying an illegitimate ESA letter, so you must be careful where you get yours from.
Getting caught with a fake ESA letter will not only stop you from traveling with your furry friend but can also lead to fines and imprisonment.
To get a legit ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional, reach out to us. We will ensure that you and your ESA get to take the long-awaited vacation!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does American Airlines still allow emotional support animals?
Yes, American Airlines still allows emotional support animals. But only if they are a reasonably-sized well-behaved cat or dog. They do not allow other animals or very large or ill-mannered cats and dogs.
Can airlines refuse emotional support animals?
Yes, according to the updated ESA laws, airlines can reject emotional support animals under certain circumstances. If your pet is an exotic animal, can cause a threat to the airplane or the passengers, shows signs of being violent or uncontrolled, or has problematic size, then the airlines may reject your emotional support animal.
Do airlines accept ESA letters?
Yes, airlines do accept legally valid ESA letters. Just make sure that the letter is signed by a licensed medical health professional and that you submit the ESA request to their airline well before the boarding time.
Do airlines verify ESA letters?
It is upon the discretion of the airlines whether they want to verify an ESA letter or not. But, if they want to, then there is no stopping from it. The contact details of the medical professional who authenticated the letter are mentioned on the letter. So, the airline may verify the ESA letter from them, or through other ways.