One main reason you might want to register an ESA (emotional support animal) is so it’s able to accompany you on a flight. Having a flying fear is a typical affliction, and taking your Emotional Support Animal along for the flight may be a soothing balm to psychological distress and frazzled nerves.
However, are you legally permitted to take ESAs with you while traveling on an airplane?
Does the law support owners of Emotional Support Animals?
Yes. Federal law classifies ESAs as being within their own unique classification apart from service animals. As a matter of fact, Emotional Support Animals may be any household pet (usually a cat or dog but occasionally more unusual animals) which was prescribed to someone that has a certain psychological or emotional condition.
Some of the psychological or emotional conditions which ESAs are recognized as helping with involving post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression or additional mood disorder, phobias (which include fear of flying and social phobia), as well as panic disorder.
Individuals who take an ESA on an airplane usually are required by the company to offer notice up to two days ahead of time and check in an hour earlier than the regular check-in time. As you arrive at the airport you will have to present your ESA letter in conjunction with your identification and additional flight paperwork at the check-in desk.
The airline may select to provide optional services to ESA passengers, yet they do not need to underneath the Airline Carrier Access Act. Here, we discuss the procedure of traveling with an ESA in order for you to know your rights.
What Information Will I Have to Provide?
So you can travel with an Emotional Support Animal, you have to have the ability to present a prescriptive letter from an eligible mental health expert.
While traveling with an Emotional Support Animal, you cannot just walk up to the airport on the date of flying and say, “I need my animal so I can feel better when flying.” There is a little more involved than that.
You have to have the ability to present a prescriptive letter from an eligible mental health expert (that is, psychologist, psychiatrist, licensed social worker) upon professional letterhead which outlines your necessity to have an ESA with you while flying. It may be a photocopy, yet the letter has to be less than one year old. If you do not have this paperwork, the airline isn’t obligated to permit you on the plane.
Underneath the Airline Carrier Access Act, the Emotional Support Animal letter has to say the following:
- The owner has an emotional or mental disability recognized within the DSM-V.
- The owner requires the psychiatric service or emotional support animal as an accommodation for traveling by air and/or for activity at the owner’s destination.
- The person offering the evaluation is a licensed mental health expert, and the owner is under her or his care.
- The type and date of the mental health specialist’s license and state or additional jurisdiction where it was issued.
Are There Going to Be Extra Charges for My Animal?
The airline will not charge an additional fee for Emotional Support Animal.
No, if you own a present ESA letter and your animal officially is recognized as an Emotional Support Animal, the airline cannot charge you any extra boarding fees.
Does My Emotional Support Animal Have to Wear a Badge or Vest?
No, Emotional Support Animals do not need to wear an identifying vest or badge on an airplane, yet you may have it wear one if you want to.
Can It All Go Wrong at the Airport?
Unless the Emotional Support Animal is noisy, large or liable to cause safety and health problems, you should not have any issue. However, it’ll pay to be aware that the airline may have the final say if they believe it’ll be too disruptive or if there are any issues with sanitation. Any refusal has to be put into writing because it’s a violation of the law. Also, the airline might be subject to legal action and fines if they deny an Emotional Support Animal on board without cause.
Am I Going to Get to Sit Next to My Animal?
Yes, typically your Emotional Support Animal may sit beside you or inside your lap if it’s safe for them to be there. You might be asked to have the animal on the floor under the seat for landing and takeoff if it comfortably can fit there. If it cannot, they’re obliged to provide you an additional seat to accommodate the Emotional Support Animal.
Can you Travel with an Unusual Animal?
Occasionally, folks travel with exotic or unusual Emotional Support Animals; therefore, it is good to know what you cannot and c
an do if you own one. Those are trickier as the airline has to make a call on if they pose a safety and health risk by traveling inside the cabin. For instance, a pig, snake, or miniature horse may cause a substantial disruption to flight service or additional passengers. However, there’ve been many instances of unusual Emotional Support Animals on flights, which include a kangaroo, a turkey, and a pig; therefore, it is safe to state that some airlines do not simply refuse outright and consider the case of every ESA fairly as they have to under the law.
Even though an Emotional Support Animal may be the norm for an ESA, it isn’t always the pet of choice for everyone. A few of the Emotional Support Animals which individuals opt to have as their companions in travel have been well-known to raise eyebrows. Occasionally, individuals and their peculiar animals even make it in the news then go viral.
However, the controversy that surrounds specific ESA animals may work in favor of folks applying for their own ESA registration. Getting into the news is great because it’ll make the general public more alert to how Emotional Support Animals aid individuals in handling afflictions like post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar, depression, anxiety, and epilepsy.
So the next time you fly and discover yourself sitting close to a pig or kangaroo, do not be shocked. Simply snap a picture, share it on social media then spread the awareness!
Call us to apply for your ESA letter