What’s New About Traveling With Your ESA on Airlines?


A few incidents in the past prompted the reconsideration of the ACAA laws on traveling with ESAs. And while some passengers need their animals to travel, the number of fake ESAs have been skyrocketing among airlines. Airlines have reported having support animals pee, poop, and bite passengers on board severally. According to Forbes, this has resulted in airlines like United, American, and Delta banning ESA travel.

Before traveling with your ESA was not complicated. All you needed was a recommendation letter from your therapist. Conversely, you could go to one of the profit-based websites and get a recommendation. But since there are so many online scams, airlines were bound to respond.

Click the button below to get an ESA Letter for your Emotional Support Animal easily!

So, what is changing in the world of airlines, especially regarding Emotional Support Animals?

What Is the Emotional Support Animal Travel Policy?

The Air Carrier Access Act passed by Congress in 1986 was to help people with difficulties to travel better. As a result, the law prohibited airlines from charging extra fees for people traveling with their support animals.

Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal became possible while, at the same time, maintaining the safety of other passengers. The law even allowed passengers to sit with their support animal in their seat of choice.

The New ACAA Laws on Support Animals

According to the new law passed by the department of transportation, service animals are only those animals specially trained to carry out a helping role in the life of persons with disabilities.

  • Emotional Support Animals are also no longer considered to be service animals. Airlines get the mandate to change their policies regarding passengers who travel with Emotional Support Animals.
  • However, the ACAA law requires psychiatric service animals to receive the same treatment as service animals.
  • Passengers with disabilities will not need to go through the airport check-in system but can instead complete the online process.
  • Anyone choosing to travel with a service animal will require forms from the DOT affirming the health, training, and behavior of the service animal, including relieving itself in a sanitary way.

Now, traveling with a service animal will see passengers presenting forms from the department of transportation.

  • The new laws also give airlines the power to decide how many animals each passenger can carry when traveling with their carriers.
  • According to the Department of Transportation’s new rules on ESAs [1*] in the US, airlines can now ask for a 48-hours travel notice when traveling with a support animal. The same law requires the pet to fit in the passenger’s foot space to facilitate travel for passengers with disabilities.

Airlines That Are Considering To Ban ESAs

However, the stringiest international travel with Emotional Support Animals remains. You must:

  • Get an updated vaccination list from the veterinary.
  • Ensure that the country you are flying to allow for animals from abroad.
  • Obtain rabies and health letter from a vet
  • Carry a letter from a licensed mental health professional in your state, confirming the animal as part of your prescription.

New Airline Take on ESAs

Since the Department of Transportation ceased recognizing ESAs as support animals, there has been a change in how airlines receive these animals on board.

For instance, passengers might now have to pay for their ESAs in the cargo hold when they choose to travel.

On the other hand, airlines can now prohibit Emotional Support Animals on board. But that is not to dishearten you. There’s still some allowance.

Although the new ACAA rules do not allow for a wider variety of support animals, there’s still hope.

Some of the notable guidelines include:

  • Any airline company can restrict passengers from carrying turtles, birds, or cats as support animals.
  • Secondly, only dogs are now considered service animals and must have adequate training to help improve a person’s life with a disability.
  • Third, unlike the old rules that only required passengers to recommend a doctor, now you will need DOT generated forms to fly with your service animal.
  • Finally, any other animal that does not fall under service animals will be considered a pet, meaning it travels in the cargo hold and attracts a specified pet charge particular to the airline company.

Register your cat or dog as ESA now by clicking the button below!

Traveling with an ESA on American Airlines

American Airlines, being the largest company in the world, was also the pet-friendliest. However, with the DOT’s new rules, a notice from the company bans any further travel requests for ESAs as of the 11th of January 2021.

According to AA, a service dog is any dog specially trained to benefit its handlers physically, psychiatrically, intellectually, or in any mental health conditions.

And from their news update on service animals, traveling with Emotional Support Animals on American Airlines will no longer be allowed. And before your flight, you will need some of those forms from the department of transportation. But if your animal fails to qualify as a service animal, then it would have to travel on the cargo hold at a fee.

And if you think you will pass through their doors like that, you might want to know that they have their staff asking relevant questions to determine your pet’s usefulness or status as an Emotional Support Animal.


Must-have Documentation for Travelling With ESAs

Traveling with ESAs on United Airlines

United Airlines also issued new guidelines regarding the presence of animals in the cabins. First, only dogs are allowed as service animals, with special training. The dog should sit at the passenger’s foot space in front of you without protruding into the aisles. More importantly, passengers with service dogs cannot have the exit row seats.

To travel with your service animal, the dog should be:

  • Well leashed or harnessed
  • Properly behave in public, and show obedience to the owner’s commands
  • Be at least four months old
  • Rabies vaccination at least 30 days before your flight
  • Have an updated vaccination certificate
  • Small enough to fit under the seat without peeking into the aisles

Despite the previous growing record on animals traveling with United, ESA on United Airlines will continue to travel until the 28th of February 2021. After that, they will be considered pets traveling in the cargo hold and attract a pet fee.

How Much Will You Pay to Travel With an ESA?

The change in rules regarding the travel of Emotional Support Animals has attracted an additional fee from airlines. Now, for you to travel with your ESA dog, you have to part with extra dollars. And depending on your destination, these rates change.

For instance, Air Delta charges a $125 fee each way to Canada, Puerto Rico, and internal flights. However, if you visit the American Virgin Islands, you part with about $400 for the entire flight.

For flights to Brazil, you have to pay $75 for each trip.


Traveling With ESAs

On the other hand, American Airlines charges $150 to Brazil and $200 to Canada, Central America, Colombia, The Caribbean, and Mexico or within the country.

United Airlines charges $125 each way, with an additional $125 service charge for flights with stoppages, totaling four hours, whether local or international.

Can ESAs Go Anywhere?

If you plan a flight and your furry friend intends to tag along, you will need more preparation than you usually would. First, you need to get the new forms from the DOT and consult with the country you wish to visit.

Some countries do not allow pets and ESAs into their airports, while you can bring an ESA in some countries. The critical thing to do at such times is to do extensive research on the host nation before you carry your service animal.

However, some laws allow such animals to accompany you to other places such as restaurants, hotels, and dorms.

If you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, get your ESA letter today!


Traveling with your ESA has become a little more complicated than it used to. Now, you need forms generated by the DOT rather than the doctor’s recommendation. Some airlines are also limiting the type of animal you can carry to dog breeds. However, you do not have to leave your pet or ESA at home. Instead, you can pay a pet fee and travel with them in the cargo hold.

Learn more about the new rules revolving ESAs and airlines. Visit or contact us for more information. Also, if you’re in doubt, and think you’re being scammed, check out our ESA reviews for more insight.

Book an appointment and start enjoying the health benefits of an ESA.


+1 sources
  1. U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Final Rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals. (2020)
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