Are you looking to fly with your emotional support animal? Luckily, you can still travel with your animal, but the Department of Transportation has changed and updated some rules.
As of now, several airlines have changed their policies, and now, most of them do not recognize emotional support animals differently from a pet in terms of charges and pet fees. The department has also introduced new policies and tightened the rules about which animals can fly on the plane.
The new DOT guidelines have caused several airlines to update their policies regarding emotional support animals.
The airlines have been raving about the new rules, and they can't wait to implement them. These changes directly result from those pesky passengers who bring their poorly trained animals on flights- something that has effectively ruined many an otherwise enjoyable flight for everyone else sitting nearby.
In many cases, the passengers brought animals like pigs, ducks, and monkeys that are difficult to handle and could be dangerous for other passengers.
The new rules and policies went into effect in March 2021, and the airlines are adopting those policies. Airlines will decide whether or not they allow emotional support animals on their flights, which could open up a whole new world for those with mental health issues.
American Airlines' emotional support animal policy stated that they would only allow well-trained and behaved service animals and pets on flights.
Many airlines still allow emotional support animals. Airlines are also required to accept individually trained psychiatric service dogs.
What does all this mean for the travelers and emotional support animal owners? According to the HUD housing rules for an emotional support animal, living with an emotional support animal is still free, but the rules have changed when it comes to flying with an ESA. We have answered some commonly asked questions about the updated laws below.
1. What are the updated DOT policies about animals in planes?
On Dec. 2, the Department of Transportation announced that it is changing its Air Carrier Access Act to ensure that service animals can be transported safely and easily on planes.
The DOT has permitted airlines to stop treating emotional support animals (ESAs) as service animals. This means that airlines can now treat ESAs as pets.
Airlines are not required to allow emotional support animals in the cabin if the owner has a doctor's note. Even though airlines may allow ESAs, the owner would have to buy a ticket for their animal and follow its rules when flying in the cabin.
2. Can I fly with my miniature horse service animal?
The new DOT rules do not allow miniature horses and thus exclude them from airline travel privileges like first-class seating or other benefits available only via air transportation providers.
Horses are livestock and could not be trained like dogs, making them a less suitable flight companion.
Moreover, horses have hooves and it could damage the aircraft. Considering these potential risks, DOT has decided to opt against allowing them as service animals.
3. Why has the department made the respective changes in its policies?
The main reason for revising the department’s Air Carrier Access Act include:
The department received numerous complaints against the service animals from and on behalf of the passengers.
An uncertain definition and explanation of what defines a ‘service animal’.
Repeated requests of allowing weird animals as service and emotional support animals on planes.
Repeated and increased cases of people trying to pose their animals as service animals to avoid pet fees.
Increased accidents in the flights caused due to emotional support animals.
The department made extensive changes to its policies regarding animals on flights to answer all of these concerns.
4. What are the updated policies of the airlines?
The following airlines have updated their policies differently. We've added the latest information below for your convenience.
JetBlue flying with an emotional support animal policy page provides complete information.
Read Spirit Airlines’ official policies page for complete and further information.
No emotional support animals will be accepted now.
Trained and well-behaved service animals will be allowed to travel free of charge.
The size of the animals should not be more than the size of the person’s set or personal space.
The person must keep the animal leashed and in the carrier at all times.
No animal will be allowed to occupy another seat or the tray table.
ESAs that assist a mentally disabled person is accepted on the flight.
Dogs, cats, and miniature horses are accepted as ESA.
Each person is allowed to have a single pet.
The person must complete the required documentation.
Check Alaska Airlines’ complete policies on this policy page for more information.
Check American Airlines’ flying with an emotional support animal policy page for more updated policies.
Read the United policies page for more information about United Airlines flying with an emotional support animal.
For complete and detailed policies, visit the Frontier airlines policies page.
Besides, you can know more about the policy details on Southwest’s policy page.
Read through Delta’s policies page regarding service and emotional support animals for complete details.
4. Which animals can fly in the cabin?
Only service dogs that have been trained will be allowed to fly without charge and without being in a carrier. Animals considered emotional support or comfort animals would not be allowed to travel freely or regarded as service animals. These animals could be anything, but they are no longer allowed to travel without a cost and a carrier.
5. Will I be allowed to travel with my ESA if I have a signed ESA letter for an LMHP?
Previously, the airlines used to regard the ESA letters but due to repeated complaints against ill-mannered and dangerous animals on board, the airlines no longer accept these letters.
However, you can still travel with your animal if it is well-mannered or trained and you are ready to pay the cost of traveling with it.
The prices are different for different airlines and, usually, you can know about it from their official website.
6. Under the updated laws, how can I fly with my ESA?
According to the updated emotional support animal laws, if your animal meets the guidelines and requirements of the airline, then you can travel with your animal. As per the requirements, your animals must be well-trained, disciplined, and not a danger to other passengers and animals traveling on the flight.
However, you must know everything about flying with a dog before you move forward with your ESA.
7. Will I have to pay to fly with my emotional support animal?
Yes, most airlines will not recognize an ESA; they will be treated as other pets. Due to this, you will have to pay to bring your animal to the cabin. The price ranges from $99 on Frontier Airlines and $125 on others, including American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, and United. The cost may vary, and you may have to pay more or less than stated here.
8. What are the policies regarding flying with a large emotional support dog?
If your dog could fit into the pet carrier, then yes, you can travel with your dog. Due to the latest update in the policies, people with comfort and emotional support animals could no longer have their animals in the cabin.
These animals are treated as other pets and would travel in the cargo since having a large emotional support dog on the plane could be potentially dangerous.
Some airlines are still accepting emotional support animals, and all airlines are required to accept psychiatric service dogs.
Almost all airlines changed their rules. American, Delta, and United have already banned emotional-support animals. Southwest said it would no longer transport emotional-support animals.
There are a lot of animals that you can't bring on a plane. This includes emotional support cats, ferrets, spiders, and pigs.
But there are some animals that you can bring. These include trained service dogs, and they need to be in a carrier or on a leash.
The US Department of Transportation announced in December 2020 that emotional support animals are no longer considered essential service animals. This means that airlines are not required to allow them on board with their owners for free.
Emotional support animals do not have the same legal rights as service dogs. Service dogs are allowed access to all public places, but emotional support animals are not.
Service dogs help people with physical disabilities, whereas emotional support animals help people with mental health issues.
Airlines can request documentation or 48 hours notice before bringing an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal on a flight.
You are allowed to have a service animal with you on an airplane. The service animal must be able to fit under the seat in front of you, or if it is small enough, it can sit on your lap. Airlines cannot refuse to let your service animal travel with you just because other passengers or crew members are uncomfortable.
Since the policies were updated, airlines have adopted them slowly and at their own pace. Some airlines have already implemented these policies while others are working on them.
To be on the safe side, you must communicate with the airline before boarding your plane with your emotional support animal.