Flying with a service dog or emotional support animal can seem a lot more complicated than it really is. Luckily, we have 6 tips for flying with service dogs and emotional support animals that anybody can use. Enjoy!
1. Contact Airline Right Away
We recommend that you contact your airline as soon as you book your flight. Inform the airline that you will be traveling with a service dog/emotional support animal. Most airlines have policies stating that they require advanced notice of any travel arrangements involving service dogs/emotional support animals. This is to ensure that the flight goes as smooth as possible both for you and for everyone else who will be on your flight. You may also be able to board your flight early or request extra legroom if you have a large service dog/emotional support animal.
2. Complete and Submit All Required Paperwork
Make sure you check to see if your specific airline requires any additional forms along with your Emotional Support Animal letter! Sometimes airlines have additional forms that must be signed off on by both your veterinarian as well as the doctor who signed off on your Emotional Support Animal letter. These can be found in our ESA Travel Kit and Service Dog Special Package!
3. Pack For Your Dog!
In additional to all the necessary paperwork, you also want to make sure that you pack for your dog. They are going to be keeping you company after all! So make sure you pack plenty of treats for them so that they remain calm throughout the entire duration of the flight. Also make sure you pack plenty of food for them for when you reach your destination.
4. Arrive to the Airport Early
Traveling with your service dog/emotional support animal should involve adequate preparation. You are going to want to do all the little things to ensure that the flight is a peaceful experience for you, your dog, and the other passengers. As such, we recommend that you take your dog for a long walk before the flight because he/she will not be able to go to the bathroom once the plane takes off. It is also recommended that you arrive at the airport early and inform security that you are traveling with your service dog/emotional support animal. Most airlines recommend arriving 2 hours early for domestic flights and 3 hours early for international flights. We recommend that you add half an hour onto those metrics just to be safe!
5. Board the Plane Early
You want to try and board the plane as early as possible because this will make it easier for all parties involved. This will make things easier for you and your dog because it will enable you to get situated in your seat, giving you more time to get them comfortable. We recommend you request early boarding at the gate if you had not done so when you initially made your travel arrangements.
6. Be Considerate of Others!
Flying by yourself can often seem like a daunting task. Add to that the major responsibility that comes with a service dog/emotional support animal and this can make travel seem like a daunting task. But it does not have to be. We are here to help. Above all, you want to keep your dog calm during the flight. In the event that there is a loud noise – you need to be able to calm them down.
Other than that, the airline is operating under the assumption that your dog is properly trained and well-behaved. It is recommended that you bring treats and an empty dog bowl. You cannot bring water through TSA and will have to purchase it once you get through security. Other than that, practice good manners. Be kind and courteous to others, especially towards employees of the airline.