If you’ve traveled with your emotional support animal (ESA) in the past, you know that it can be a great comfort to have your pet with you (especially on stressful flights). Although there are new restrictions put out by different airlines regularly, it is still possible for you to fly with your ESA in 2019. A lot of the regulations put into place have been because people were misusing the privilege (by trying to fly with exotic animals that disturbed other passengers, or by flying with pets that were not trained to be around other people). If you’re still interested in flying with your ESA, be aware that there are quite a few hoops to jump through to make sure you’re being compliant with each airline’s specific rules. Here’s a look at what you need to know to fly with your ESA with each different airline.
This airline has new regulations in place that mean that you can only fly with your emotional support animal if they are a cat or a dog (no other animals are permitted). You also are only allowed to travel with one animal, and they must be kept on a leash or in a carrier at all times during your flight. Although you’re not required to present any written documentation to the airline about your animal or its health, you do need to provide them with a letter in advance from a medical doctor or licensed mental health professional that explains why it’s necessary for you to fly with your ESA. Southwest is still able to deny your ESA entrance to the plane if they’re displaying any inappropriate or untrained behavior.
At this time, United allows dogs, cats, miniature horses, monkeys, and birds on the plane as emotional support animals. You are only permitted to have one animal with you on your flight, they must weigh less than 65 pounds, and they must be able to sit in the floor space below your seat. You must also sign an Animal Behavior Form (which verifies that your ESA has been trained to behave in a public setting) and a Veterinary Health Form that has been signed by a licensed vet. These documents must be given to the airline at least 48 hours prior to your departure. Along with these forms, you must also provide a letter from a medical doctor or licensed mental health professional that specifies why you need your ESA on the flight with you.
Delta has recently instituted some new rules regarding their emotional support animal policies. For example, passengers are only allowed to have one animal with them on the flight. They have also banned most animals besides dogs and cats. A recent change also means that ESAs must be over four months of age to fly (because of rabies vaccination standards). One other major restriction is that emotional support animals are no longer permitted to travel on flights that are longer than eight hours. On all flights, your ESA must be seated in the floor space below the seat or in your lap for the whole trip. You are required to complete the mandatory documentation at least 48 hours before your flight. This includes documentation from a certified mental health professional stating your need for an ESA (an ESA letter), as well as a Veterinary Health Form with certification of your ESA’s health and rabies shot verifications. An additional Accessibility Service Request Form has to be uploaded to Delta’s website, along with a Confirmation of Training Form that verifies your emotional support animal is well-trained. Delta does reserve the right to ban your ESA from boarding the cabin if they’ve exhibited bad behavior, such as growling, excessive barking, or jumping on other passengers.
You can fly with your emotional support animal on JetBlue as long as they are a cat, dog, or miniature horse. Your ESA also must stay with you on the floor or in your lap during the flight. In order to be eligible to fly, you must notify the airline up to 48 hours before your flight and complete the following forms: the Medical/Mental Health Professional’s Form, the Veterinary Health Form, and the Confirmation of Animal Behavior Form – all of which can be found on JetBlue’s website.
This airline has become one of the strictest in recent months in terms of managing ESAs on board. They’ve added the following restrictions: you may only travel with one ESA, they must be either a cat or dog of four months of age or older, and they must be clean and well-behaved. Your ESA also must be able to fit at your feet, under your seat, or in your lap (lap animals must be smaller than a two-year-old child). If you’re using a kennel for your ESA, this must be able to fit under the seat in front of you with the animal in it. There are additional restrictions with specific destinations, so check with American when you’re making plans for your trip. When you’re ready to fly, you must contact the American Airlines Special Assistance Desk with the proper paperwork at least 48 hours before your flight. You’ll need to complete a Mental Health Professional Form, in which your licensed mental health professional will note that you have a mental or emotional disability (recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and that you’re currently under their care. They must also demonstrate that you have a legitimate need for having your ESA with you on your flight. You’ll also need to fill out a Behavior Guidelines Form and an Animal Sanitation Form (if your flight is going be longer than eight hours). The airline can contact your mental health professional to substantiate any of your claims if they wish to do so.
You can definitely still fly with your ESA in 2019 as long as you’re following the restrictions laid out by the airline you’re traveling with. Adhere to the regulations, and you and your ESA will be able to fly with no problems!