What Emotional Support Animals are Allowed on Planes?

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As more and more people keep animals for emotional support, more people will be bringing support animals on airplanes when they travel. While dogs are the most common, they certainly aren’t the only animals people are trying to bring on airplanes. If you’re trying to find out what emotional support animals are allowed on planes, then you may get different answers for different airlines. The airlines are still figuring it out and disallowing animals or breeds (as in this case) as they need to, but I’ll go over some of the more common and a few less common. 

Emotional support animals are also known as companion animals. They provide benefits for people with psychological disorders. No one has the power to declare their pet as an emotional support animal. That has to be done by a certified medical professional.

A Bit About The Benefits Of Emotional Support Animals

Some of the benefits companion animals bring to their owners include calming them down in cases of post-traumatic stress and even providing a sense of security in cases of anxiety. Apart from alerting and protecting of epileptic people before seizures, companion animals may also act as ears for the deaf. Some of these animals also provide affection to the owners.

Types Of Emotional Support Animals Allowed In Planes

There are several companion animals that may be allowed in a plane. The list, however, keeps changing as the amendments to laws are made regularly. The airline may also decide which animals to include in the cabin and which ones not to.

  • Dogs– this is the most common companion animal. Dogs appear in various breeds, shapes and sizes. People love them because they are believed to be the most loyal creatures and it is easy to develop affection for them. Some of the most affectionate breeds include the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever, and the Brussels Griffon
  • Cats– despite their cute, innocent and playful nature, cats are humans’ friends as well. They provide comfort and companionship in times of anxiety and loneliness. Cuddling a cat has also been proven to reduce stress levels by a considerable percentage. Cats love to be petted, have strong instincts and are easy to teach.
  • Rabbits– they are not only believed to be loving and gentle, but also easy to bond with. Just like cats, rabbits love to cuddle and be handled. They are also quiet creatures that do not require a lot of space in a plane. The personalities of rabbits may make you find them adorable at first sight.
  • Birds– this is another breed qualified to board a plane as a companion animal. The various species, shapes and sizes make birds a perfect choice for a pet and companion animal. Everyone loves waking up to beautiful sounds of singing birds. The birds are up to and not limited to parrots, ducks and turkeys. 
  • Mini pigs– small pigs have also been added to the list of companion animals allowed in a plane. Although this is controversial, there are certain airlines that believe a pig would cause discomfort and irritation to their passengers. The problem with bigger breeds is the difficulty in containing them.
  • Snakes-are controversial as well. Some airlines believe that as long as the owner bears the supporting documents, they may fly with their companion. Other airlines however believe in the security and comfort of the other passengers, and worry that snakes may solicit fear and anxiety among the passengers.
  • Some of the animals that have not yet been added to the flying list include hedgehogs, spiders and ferrets. Technically, any animal can be a companion animal as long as you are cleared by a licensed professional. Different airlines however, have different opinions as to which animals to allow or not to allow in their compartments.

 

obedient dog

How To Qualify As An Emotional Support Animal

Your pet does not need any training or special skills from a professional to be a companion animal. You, however, must have an emotional or mental need that requires the animal to be with you during your flights for emotional support.

You must legally be declared emotionally unfit by a licensed professional. There are no age restrictions for companion animals. This means that even puppies and kittens can fly in such a category.

Airline Requirements For Traveling With Companion Animals

Those with valid ESA (Emotional Support Animal) licenses may enjoy the privilege of flying with their animal at no extra fee. In addition, your animal has to be well-behaved and stay calm inside the plane. Having a well trained companion animal when flying will make everyone’s journey more pleasant.

There are training products available for various companion animals. For example if you have or are planning to have a dog as a companion animal, you may look into getting something like this popular training collar on Amazon.

Below are a couple of airlines and their policies regarding flying with emotional support animals

American Airlines

American Airlines acknowledges the fact that people require emotional support animals. The company requires that the owner be accompanied by the legal supporting documents that are not more than a year old. For your animal to get in the plane, American Airlines is specific on the following details as per their site.

  • You must have a mental or emotional incapacity recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.
  • Your assessment must have been provided and recorded by a registered professional.
  • You need the animal as an accommodation during the trip or for an activity at your point of destination.
  • Specifics to your mental condition and the state it was issued.
  • The details must be presented two days before your scheduled flight.

Delta Airlines

This airline also requires that an early notification has to be made for anyone wishing to travel with their animals. The animal will however stay on the floor beside the owner’s seat. The company policies are clear that animals should not occupy passenger’s seats.

As usual, the animal has to be well-behaved and properly documented before travel. The documents must include a minimum of the following requirements as stipulated on their website.

  • Specifics of the mental health professional including license number and state of issuance.
  • That the passenger’s mental condition is acknowledged in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (4th edition)
  • That the person listed is under the care of the professional mentioned.
  • A soft copy of the document is also acceptable.

Jet Blue Airlines

Jet Blue provides the following conditions on their website.

  • That the customer has a disability related to mental health.
  • That the animal is important to the health of the customer.
  • The number and type of companion animals.
  • That the individual providing assessment is legally licensed.
  • The specifics of the professional including license number, date and state of issue.

Conclusion

Companion animals like dogs, cats and birds can easily be allowed in a plane under proper documentation. It is however your duty to ensure that the animals are well-behaved according to stipulated guidelines of the airline.

Although there is no limit as to which animal may be used as emotional support, larger breeds like goats or grown pigs are difficult to travel with. It is therefore advisable to pick a smaller sized pet as your companion animal.