How to fly with an ESA in 2018?

Do you know what procedures are necessary to comply in order to travel with an Emotional Support Animal? Airlines, now, are getting concerned yet firm with the policies regarding travelling with emotional support animals. Therefore, it is significant to know what forms you must collect and submit ahead of time. However, even before that, the first and foremost step is to distinguish an emotional support animal from a service animal.

How to fly with an ESA in 2018

 What is an ESA?

An Emotional Support Animal is there for people with emotional, psychiatric, or psychological needs as compared to a guide dog for a blind person. But how will you prove that? Official documentation from doctors, psychologists, or other mental health representatives will help to proclaim the pet as your emotional support animal, especially while going onboard.

Dogs and cats flying with their owners, is not an uncommon sight. Now we witness pigs fly, and miniature horses as doctor-sanctioned animal companions. Also, peacocks get the shaft when it comes to comforting passengers on board. Emotional Support Animals are becoming common sights on airplanes, however, the type and breed of an ESA is still a fundamental concern for major airlines.

 Why do you need to prove your pet as an ESA?

Year 2018 so far, has been full of disasters concerning Emotional Support Animals. Incidents, such as emotional support dogs biting adults and children on board, have led airlines to limit their onboard animal policies. Additionally, recent fiascos with lost and even dead dogs is alarming for both, the airlines and the passengers. Consequently, passengers are more suspicious than ever to travel with their pet family members.

Since then, airlines have created fairly strict information guide for passengers who wish to fly with a wide range of animals. However, as more people are making efforts to fly with their support animals, airlines are getting more specific and detailed on what’s allowed, and negotiating on which animals can fly uncrated and in the main cabin.

Passengers’ safety and comfort are the least factors to be compromised by any airlines. Hence, before you carry your furry friend to the airport, make sure to inquire about which animals airlines allow on planes.

 General rules to observe

The Department of Transportation offers a broad and a technical resource for passengers traveling with an ESA. However, as a general rule, the following are a ‘must-have’ rule to conform to;

  • Majority of airlines require your support animal documentation to be submitted before your scheduled departure time. However, traveling with an ESA will still be subject to the approval of the airlines authority, despite all the forms had been submitted in order and on time.
  • After an approval of your pet’s official documents, your animal should wear a collar for identification at all times.
  • Most airlines permit dogs, cats, and household birds on board. Any animal apart from these should be kept away from being on board.

What official forms do you need?

Now that few of the largest carriers such as Delta and United, recently began asking for veterinary documents and offers a very thorough set of Emotional Support Animal request forms, thus, it is important to be prepared before time.

As a general rule, majority of airlines already require a doctor’s need stating your medical need to bring an ESA on board. Also, some airlines might require few additional documentation to conform to their rules and regulations.

In order to assure everything goes well, the following statements should come in handy with you;

  • A recent written declaration and authorization from your medical provider stating your medical need for an emotional support animal.
  • Professional veterinary’s certification confirming that your ESA is currently in good health, can be trusted to behave appropriately in crowded environments and is harmless. Also the type, breed, weight and the completed or left vaccinations of your ESA. You can also take their help in coping with pet loss.
  • Your statement concerning your ESA’s good behavior and affirming that it is not a troublesome pet and will behave well on the flight and at the airport.


Every carrier has different requirements as to when, how and which ESA forms need to be submitted. To make the journey an exotic one, take assistance from your veterinary to suggest suitable measures to safely transport your animal in the aircraft cabin, in a kennel, muzzle, or cargo. Furthermore, traveling with your emotional support animal without any additional cost is allowed by airline carriers if you have an ESA letter from professional therapists.

As neither the airlines nor you would want your pet to end up in an incident like the giant peacock found flightless in Newark or how Pebbles the Hamster became a flushed fatality after an airline-passenger misunderstanding.

 Author’s Bio

Clair Rein Animal Care Supervisor Chs/Mammals

Clair Rein is an animal lover and blogger. She writes her article and publish them so people can be aware of how animals are being treated these days. She also works for different welfare societies for animals as an Animal Care Supervisor Chs/Mammals, where she learns new things and share them with others.