Flying With An Emotional Support Animal

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Flying With An Emotional Support Animal October 13th, 2016

Flying With An Emotional Support Animal

Have you ever wanted to explore the world and discover some new sights or simply wish to visit some relatives on the other side of the country, but do not know how to proceed to fly with your emotional support animal? Just know that you are clear to take off without any hassles if you would like to travel the blue skies with your ESA.

According to the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, air carriers, both foreign and domestic, cannot discriminate passengers on the basis of mental or physical disabilities. This gives would-be passengers to ability to fly with their emotional service animal.

Preparing You & Your Pet

Now that it is known that you will be able to fly with your ESA, there are required steps which you must abide by in order to actually get on the aircraft.

Starting with the basics, a person who is looking to have an emotional support animal is going to need documentation from a therapist, psychiatrist, or other licensed mental health professional which designates that you should have an ESA which acts to alleviate symptoms of emotional, psychiatric, or mental disabilities. In order to get the documentation, schedule an appointment with your local therapist, psychiatrist, or other licensed mental health professional and explain your situation. If your schedule is booked and you are having trouble finding a doctor that will fit your in, follow the steps on TherapyPet.org’s official website to speak with a licensed therapist.) Having this documentation on a paper with the therapist’s official letterhead is recommended so that the airline can see that it is official.

(It may be the case that the airline wants to check the credentials of the therapist, psychiatrist, or other licensed mental health professional. It may be in your best interest to let the professional that you are seeing know beforehand so that they are ready to answer the questions of the airline company.)

After obtaining the documentation supporting your claim to have a support animal, you should prepare to get accessories for that animal. One of the accessories that you have the opportunity to get is identification in the form of documents and cards. The animal identification card will act to show that your support animal fulfills the purpose acting to alleviate the symptoms of emotional, psychiatric, or mental disabilities.

One of the biggest steps is being able to explain that the animal you are traveling with is accompanying you for the purpose of emotional support. Communication will the airport staff and explaining the situation will give them a better understanding of why the animal is traveling in the cabin with you. There are a few key differences between traveling with emotional support animals versus other types of service animals and airlines will point this out. So it is imperative to be able to communicate in a clear and friendly manner with the airport staff.

At the Airport

Every airline has its own set of rules which dictate allowing the ESA to fly in the cabin with you versus in a kennel. Make sure to contact the airline that you are flying with to see the rules that they require and inform them ahead of time that you will be traveling with your companion.

Make sure all your documentation is recent and up to date. Just like any other form of identification, having expired documentation will cause problems that are easily avoidable. By making sure you have proper identification of your emotional disability and your ESA is there to alleviate the symptoms, you will not be given any hassle at the airport.

You have to be able to explain that the animal you are traveling with is accompanying you for the purpose of emotional support. There are a few key differences between traveling with emotional support animals versus other types of service animals and airlines will point this out.

Dressing your service animal is also recommended, not for fashion, but rather for airport staff to properly recognize that the animal is there for emotional support. By dressing the animal in solid colors and attaching ESA patches to the clothing, airport staff will be able to quickly identify the purpose of your animal. Vests, collars, and leashes, are all available in order to help the airport staff to identify that your support animal is there to help you cope.

These steps may seem quite tedious. At TherapyPet, we want to better prepare you for your life with your emotional support animal. If you gather all the documentation and follow the steps provided, then traveling with your ESA will result in a hassle-free, exciting adventure.