Emotional Support Animal & Pet Policies: Spirit Airlines
Going the same route as most other airline companies, the Spirit Airlines support animal policy has become stricter following several incidents involving pets, service animals, and emotional support animals on planes.
The new system clearly distinguishes between service animals such as service dogs and emotional support animals and regular pets, as is recommended under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) formulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation that safeguards the rights of passengers with mental health issues or psychiatric and physical disabilities.
Unlike several other carriers, Spirit will try to accommodate emotional support animals that are larger than one passenger seat, but will not hold themselves accountable if such an arrangement cannot be met.
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What Are The New Restrictions & Letter Requirements?
Under the new requirements, there are still size restrictions, as animals larger than the passenger seat may be denied access to the aircraft cabin. Airplane staff will try to accommodate customers that need more room, but in some cases, there will be a requirement to purchase additional passenger seats or upgrade to bigger front seats if there are no other options. Finally, for really large animals such as miniature horses, the customer may be denied service. If you are uncertain if your ESA will be larger than the seat you may inquire on the Spirit website.
Secondly, some species and classes of animals will be denied service due to the presumable discomfort for other passengers or the inability for the animal to be secured safely on board. These groups of animals include snakes, reptiles, rodents, ferrets, sugar gliders, and spiders. This means that while a pet hamster seems like a common choice, it will be denied access to the plane. Other animals, including exotic animals, may be allowed access depending on the other factors, and you should ask about them in advance.
All service animals and ESA companions will need proper certification, commonly known as an emotional support letter, and proof of training that will show that the animal is trained to deal with large crowds including children, as well as tight spaces such as the aircraft cabin. Even a certified service dog might be removed from the flight prior to departure for inappropriate behavior including barking, biting, lunging, or relieving itself inside the cabin.
What Documents Do You Need?
Customers of Spirit Airlines that want to bring along an ESA will need several forms that will prove their disability, mental or physical issue to determine if they can bring their ESA or psychiatric service animal free of charge. You may download the form directly from this link or the Spirit Airlines support page. The form is also available in Spanish.
These forms include:
- Mental Health Professional Form
- Veterinary Health Form
- Passenger Liability Form
Please note that you will need to submit all of these forms to the Spirit Disability Coordinators at least 48 hours prior to departure. As these files are not kept on record, you will need to submit them to each airport you plan on visiting, as well as carry a copy of all documents on your person in case you are asked to provide them on site.