So you want to travel with your emotional support animal but do not know where to start? That’s okay! We are here to help and will answer all of your questions. We help many people everyday travel with their emotional support animals so we will do the same for you.
This post will outline the step-by-step process on how to travel with your emotional support animal. And we will do so in a way that explains everything that you need to know. Let’s start with the basics.
What is an emotional support animal?
An emotional support animal is a companion animal that a medical professional has designated as providing some benefit for a person suffering from mental health or emotional disorders. Such conditions include: depression, anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks.
This is not to be confused with a service animal or service dog. According to the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are specifically trained to help physically disabled people do work or complete tasks that they are not able to.
Typically, dogs are the most commonly relied upon animals for emotional support, followed by cats. However, we are seeing the parameters of “emotional support animal” expand to include non-tradition animals.
As a result, we are seeing some debate now as to where exactly the line should be drawn regarding emotional support.
How to Travel with Your Emotional Support Animal
To be clear, only dogs and cats are going to get approval for travel.
Now in order to travel with your emotional support animal and have them accompany you in the cabin, you must present a travel letter to the airline you are flying on. This is a regulated requirement from the airlines, which must be provided to them well in advanced.
At Instant ESA, we recommend that you reach out the airline you are traveling on because policies and travel procedures vary. You can learn more about the different airlines’ ESA policies on our Home Page under the “View Airline ESA Policies” section.
How Do I Get an ESA Travel Letter from Instant ESA?
By law, an ESA letter must come from a licensed mental health professional. They must evaluate the mental and emotional disability of the person in need of support.
As for the letter itself, it must include the therapist’s qualifications. Are they a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or therapist? This information must be clear on the therapist’s letterhead.
Furthermore, an ESA letter is not a “prescription” of any sort. It is in a sense, a recommendation letter.
What are the contents of the ESA Travel Letter?
As outlined in the Air Carriers Access Act, the body of the ESA travel letter must contain the following details.
- It must clearly state that the passenger has a mental disability
- The emotional support animal travel letter should explain the necessity of the emotional support animal traveling with the passenger. The therapist determines this.
- The therapist must state that the individual is under their care.
- Most importantly, it must be made clear that the mental health professional actually has their license. So important details include: date of license issue, state where they are licensed, and all relevant contact information.
“I want to travel with my emotional support animal now. What should I do?”
If you want to travel with your emotional support animal right now, or in the near future, here is what you should do.
1. Get your emotional support animal travel letter (click here).
2. Make your travel arrangements/research your airline’s ESA policies ahead of time.
3. Get the necessary airline forms (click here).
4. Adequately prepare/pack for your emotional support animal.
5. Arrive to the airport early. Be courteous of others. Enjoy your trip!
We hope this post was helpful. By now, you should have a clear understanding on how to travel with your emotional support animal. If you have any other questions, be sure to contact us or let us know in the comments below!