Flying can be a stressful experience, and flying over the holidays can be even more nerve-wracking. There are typically more people traveling overall, which means much bigger crowds and a potentially more hectic vibe at the airport (and even once you’ve boarded the plane). If you have a fear of flying, you could end up feeling that much more anxiety. If that’s the case, you might want to consider holiday flying with an emotional support animal (ESA). If you already have an ESA and you’re simply wondering, “How do I make flying over the holidays with my ESA as smooth as possible?”, keep reading for everything you need to know to make that happen.
ESAs And Flying Over The Holidays
If you’ve been thinking, “How am I going to make flying with my emotional support animal this Christmas an easy process?”, we’ve got some suggestions to make sure your travel plans are as stress-free as possible. You’ll want to create a safe, comfortable flying environment for your ESA so that they can, in turn, give you the comfort and support you need to make it through your trip. As long as you’re staying aware of how to make them feel safe, they’ll do the same for you – just by offering their sweet, loving energy.
How To Make Arrangements With The Airline
Your very first step when planning out your trip for the holidays should be to look up the website of the particular airline you’ll be flying with. They should have a section that lists specifically what they require in order for you to fly with your ESA. There are some restrictions about which animals are allowed on board, which vary from airline to airline. If you have a traditional ESA, like a cat or dog, you most likely shouldn’t run into any problems.
Read carefully through what the airline is requiring you to do ahead of time in order to travel with your ESA. Some airlines do mandate that you have a significant amount of paperwork filled out at least a few days before your flight (it’s generally around 48 hours in advance). These forms can include a veterinarian report regarding the health of your pet, copies of their vaccination records, and a statement verifying that your ESA can behave well enough to travel with other passengers and is not a danger to anyone on board.
You’ll also need to provide a copy of your official ESA certification letter from your mental health professional that states your need for an ESA. If you don’t have a letter yet, you can always get one from MooshMe. And don’t forget to make sure your letter is always 100% up to date (they typically expire within one year of issuance)!
How To Make Your Pet Comfortable
You’ll need to ensure that your ESA is riding comfortably when they’re with you during your travels. If you have a smaller ESA, you can look into getting them a pet carrier that makes them easier to tote around. You can always put their favorite toys or a blanket inside to help them feel safe. If your ESA is a little bit larger, you should make sure you have a collar or harness and a leash that’s easy for them to be led around on, especially through a bustling airport.
You’ll also need to check ahead of your flight that you have enough food and water (and possibly treats!) with you on board for your ESA, as the airline staff will not provide you with anything for them. Additionally, it’s crucial that you have thought through how to allow your pet to relieve themselves, both at the airport and then later during the flight.
How To Have An Easy Travel Experience With Your ESA
When you picture “Christmas flying with my ESA,” you can hopefully imagine a calm, easygoing trip where you can sit back and enjoy the holiday season. In order to make that a reality, you’ll need to ensure that your ESA is the perfect traveling companion. This means they’re well-trained and can follow through on simple commands. They’ll also need to behave well at all times (which means no barking, growling, or biting).
As long as your ESA doesn’t disturb other passengers or make the airline staff’s job any harder, your ESA should be a pleasure to fly with. Remember to be respectful of everyone’s space and their own in-flight experience, and you shouldn’t face any issues from anyone on your flight.
Also, remember to arrive as early as you can at the airport so that you won’t be rushing to get to your gate. By allowing yourself more time, you won’t have to rush through baggage check and security, and instead can take your time getting your ESA through the airport. This is especially necessary with the crowds that can turn up when flying close to the holidays. Extra time can also be helpful to make sure you have everything you need for your ESA before you board, as well as giving them time to relieve themselves before getting on the plane.
You’ll also need to make sure that you check in at your gate in advance of your flight so that the airline staff knows that you’re traveling with your ESA. They might require you to show additional paperwork or your certification letter at this point to verify your need for an ESA. Be prepared with extra copies of all of your forms and your letter in case they need proof of this documentation.
The holidays are a time when your stress levels can go through the roof. Make sure you have your ESA by your side when you travel so that they can work to reduce your anxiety. Whether you have a fear of flying or just need your ESA to help alleviate some of your mental health symptoms, they can be key to getting you through the hectic holiday season. Be as prepared as you can be for flying with them (which includes notifying the airline ahead of time and getting the proper documentation completed), and once you’re at the airport, you won’t have to worry about a thing – except how you’re going to get into the holiday spirit!