How to get an Emotional Support Animal Letter for Flying
Step by step guide – How to Get an ESA Letter for Flying
Have you seen dogs in the airport and wonder why they are allowed to fly? Chances are, they are emotional support animals. Below we will address steps to qualify for an ESA Letter so you may travel with your dog.
Step #1 -Understand and identify your disability
Do you qualify for an ESA letter? You can qualify for an ESA letter if you have disabilities as noted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). A few examples are:
- – Depression
- – Social Anxiety Disorder
- – Anxiety Disorder
- – Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- – Panic Attacks
- – and more
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An Emotional Support Animal is a pet that provides comfort and love to their handler. An ESA can be any type of animal through an Emotional Support Dog is the most common choice.
An Emotional Support Dog, unlike a Service Dog, does not require special training but does have to be well behaved.
Step #2 – Understand your rights
Why are Emotional Support Animals allowed to fly?
Emotional Support Animals are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act. What is the ACAA? The ACAA is a specific part of the US Code that prohibits commercial airlines from discriminating against passengers with disabilities.
As a result, the airlines cannot charge a fee for your emotional support animal. Most airlines have a $150+ fee for traveling with your ESA. If you have an ESA letter, this fee is waived.
In addition, the airlines cannot impose a breed or weight restriction. They will also need to provide reasonable accommodations for you assuming you have a larger ESA (such as a 100 lb dog). This includes allowing you to sit in premium seats with more leg room so that your ESA has a place to lie down. Note: this only applies to reasonable requests, for example, you cannot bring a horse on the plane.
Step #3 – Qualify for a Legitimate ESA letter
How to qualify your dog as an Emotional Support Animal
If you feel that you may qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, you may contact your therapist for support. If your therapist is unaware of ESA regulations, you may refer to a legitimate online referral company for support. It is important that you work with a therapist who believes in animal therapy and understands the regulations as an ESA letter requires specific language.
If you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal and have an ESA letter, we recommend that you submit your ESA letter to the airline ahead of time for approval. Each airline has their own policy and procedure so it’s better to be aware of it ahead of time so you do not run into any problems at the airport.
You are not required to register your Emotional Support Animal – only an ESA letter from a licensed therapist may make your pet an official Emotional Support Animal.
Step #4 – Train your ESA to be a “good citizen”
Although an Emotional Support Animal or Dog does not require special training, they need to be well behaved. This needs to be practiced before you arrive at the airport. Not only do the airlines have a right to deny you access if they can show your ESA may cause harm to others, but it is hurtful to other ESA handlers.
Below are examples of good citizen behavior
- – Walking with you and within the leash length – not pulling or lunging
- – Ignoring food on the floor or in other passenger’s hands
- – Not barking or lunging
- – Sitting and staying on command
Step #5 – Prepare your ESA for success
What you need to do for your ESA – Exercise and prepare for your ESA’s flight
As mentioned earlier, we recommend that you notify your airline at least 48 hours in advance. This will give them a chance to inform you of their policy and procedure as well as make reasonable accommodations for you. We recommend contacting them as soon as you book your fight and no longer than 48 hours in advance.
- – Do not give your ESA food or water 3-4 hours before flight – make sure they have ample opportunity to relieve themselves before the flight
- – Prepare treats for good behavior in the airport – this is an excellent opportunity to reward them for positive behavior and enforce it for the next trip. Your ESA should associate the airport as a fun place where they get tons of treats in return for behaving well.
- – Make sure your ESA exercise 1-2 hour before flight, this will help them get rid of excess energy
- – You may also choose to give your ESA Dramamine for motion sickness or Benedryl to help them sleep. Each animal is different, please consult your veterinarian before giving your ESA medicine.
See if you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal letter from ESA Doctors by clicking the link below.
More articles that you may find helpful: