The festive season is a time of year when a lot of people travel. Airports, train stations, and roads are all busier than usual over the end-of-year period. Many people travel to be with family over the holidays, while others take the festive season as an opportunity to get away for a winter vacation.
This festive season, emotional support animals are more popular than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a big test of people’s mental health. ESAs improve a whole host of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and phobias. By providing love, good company, and crucial support to their owners, ESAs massively increase happiness levels and improve psychological health.
Many ESA owners who are traveling throughout December will be bringing their emotional support animal along with them. Traveling can be stressful at the best of times, but the presence of a loyal and loving ESA is especially important during the holidays.
Traveling with your ESA over the festive season can bring up quite a few questions… Can I bring my emotional support pet anywhere? Can I take my ESA on a bus or train? What types of emotional support pets are allowed on an airplane?
Here is our ESA travel guide for the festive season.
Can I Bring My ESA Anywhere?
An emotional support animal has special rights under the law. ESAs can go places that regular pets are not allowed to go. The main places that ESAs are allowed to go that regular pets are not include:
- Residential properties that are otherwise classed as “No Pets Allowed”
- In the cabins of airplanes
- On most types of public transport
It’s important to note that ESAs do not have the same rights as service animals. This is because service animals are specially trained, whereas ESAs are not. ESAs do not have the legal right to be in certain public areas that service animals can be in, such as shops, restaurants, and cinemas.
Do I Need An ESA Travel Letter?
You do not need a specific emotional support pet travel letter in order to travel with your ESA. However, you do need to show your official ESA letter to prove that your pet is an ESA if you are traveling on a plane, bus, or train that usually does not allow pets.
A valid ESA letter must include the following:
- Your Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-recognized mental health condition.
- Confirmation that you require the ESA for the flight or at your destination.
- Confirmation that you are under the care of a licensed mental health professional.
- Your mental health professional’s type of license and the state it was issued by.
- The letter must be written on your mental health professional’s official letterhead.
- The letter must be in date (not more than a year old).
Does ESA Species Matter When Traveling?
The species of your ESA very much matters when you are traveling. Many travel companies that allow emotional support dogs, cats, pot-bellied pigs, and miniature horses to travel will not allow certain other ESA species on board. If you have an ESA that can be loud, aggressive, or messy, or that is excessively large (such as an ESA goat or donkey), you will most likely not be able to travel with the animal.
Can My Emotional Support Animal Fly With Me?
Certain types of emotional support animals can travel with you in the cabin of a commercial airplane. The law allows ESA dogs, miniature horses, and various other small ESA species to travel in airplane cabins. Large, exotic, or unruly ESAs will generally not be allowed to fly with their owners.
Can Airlines Deny Emotional Support Animals?
Airlines can deny ESAs that they deem will be a disruption to airline staff and other travelers.
Under certain circumstances, common ESAs such as ESA dogs can also be denied by an airline if the specific animal is dirty or behaving in a way that will disturb other travelers and airline staff.
Do I Need To Tell My Airline That My ESA Is Traveling?
It is always advisable to tell your airline that your ESA is traveling with you. Most airlines require that you let them know you will be traveling with an ESA in writing up to 24 hours before you fly. Many airlines have online forms you’ll need to fill in to let them know you will be traveling with an ESA.
Tips For Flying With Your ESA Dog
When flying with your ESA dog, remember to do the following:
- Bring your ESA letter
- Make sure your ESA dog is clean, calm, and well-behaved
- Bring food and water for your dog
ESA Airplane Etiquette
When flying with your ESA, it is important to follow good ESA airplane etiquette. This means:
- Your ESA must sit on the floor between your legs
- Your ESA should not wander around the cabin
- Your ESA should be quiet, well-behaved, and clean
Can ESAs Travel On Buses And Trains?
There is no law that says that ESAs are (or are not) entitled to travel on all public buses and trains. However, most public and private bus and train companies will allow a well-behaved ESA of a common pet species (such as a dog or cat) to travel along with their owner.
It is advisable to contact any public transport company you are planning to travel with to make sure that your ESA will be able to accompany you on your journey this festive season.
How Do I Get An Emotional Support Animal Letter?
The best way to get an emotional support animal letter is to arrange an online consultation with a mental health professional through Moosh. Once they verify that you will benefit from ESA ownership, they will email an ESA certificate to you. This will entitle you to get an emotional support pet, or to designate a pet you already own as an official ESA.