Like most things in life, there is a right way to do things, and then there’s a wrong way.
Emotional Support Animals can be an excellent source of comfort for many situations, from being permitted to have a pet in accommodation that usually disallows animals, to being allowed to take your pet on an aircraft. This article covers Emotional Support Animals for the relief of anxiety while flying.
Being permitted to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) isn’t as simple as arriving at an airport and expecting the airline staff to allow you and “Fluffy” to board their aircraft.
In most areas of life, there are rules. Such rules are written up for many reasons, but for people wishing to board a plane with an Emotional Support Animal, the rules are there to avoid fraud and to cater for fair play. Airlines fully support legitimate Emotional Support Animals, but at the same time, they don’t want 300 seats filled with 300 pets.
Problems Regarding Emotional Support Animals
In the eyes of the authorities, there are two main problem areas regarding Emotional Support Animals. The first problem is that many people would like to take their pet on a flight to avoid the usual regulations for transporting animals. There have indeed been cases of people arriving at airports with their pet, and expecting that they can simply declare that they are taking their pet for emotional support reasons with no evidence of the need.
For anyone trying the approach above, beware, you are not taking your pet on board that plane!
The next common problem (very common,) is that many websites are offering Emotional Support Animal certificates or letters. For people new to the world of Emotional Support Animals, these websites seem very authentic. The trouble is, you cannot simply get a letter or certificate from a site and expect it to be a genuine offering. Most such websites are fraudulent, and you hand over your dollars and receive a worthless piece of paper in return.
So How Can I Get Official Permission to Take An Emotional Support Animal On-board a Plane?
The only way (and I mean ONLY way,) is to get a letter from a licensed mental health professional. There is no other official, legal way.
If you are already seeing a licensed mental health professional, then ask them if they’ll provide you with the letter to permit you to have an Emotional Support Animal. Be aware that not all doctors will agree that you need one, or they may have the belief that the practice of having Emotional Support Animals is not beneficial for anyone. It all depends upon the opinions of your doctor. Having an Emotional Support Animal is not a right, it’s a medical decision like all other medical decisions.
An Official ESA Letter From a Licensed Mental Health Professional Sample (for Airlines):
More Details of Regulation Letters from https://www.officialservicedogregistry.com
Airline staff are fully trained to recognize official letters and are equally well trained regarding spotting fakes. Similarly, they are fully up-to-date on identifying fake letters and certificates from fraudulent websites.
Your Obligations Regarding The Flight
There are a few points to be aware of regarding taking your authorized Emotional Support Animal onboard an aircraft. The first thing to note is that you need to notify the Airline at least 48 hours before the flight regarding your intention to bring along your ESA. The reason for this is that the Airline will want to know the breed and size of your pet. They need to know this in advance as they may need to move you if your pet is a large one. They may move you to near the emergency exit for example as there is more space in that area.
Remember to keep your ESA Letter to hand at all times and treat it like your pet’s passport. You never know when it may be requested at any point in your journey.
You Have Your Official ESA Letter and You Therefore Qualify – But Does Your Pet Qualify?
Having an official ESA letter is one thing, but having a pet that qualifies is another. Don’t let an anti-social pet deny you the right to access an aircraft.
Airline staff certainly have the right to prohibit you from boarding their plane if they believe that your pet will disturb, or be a danger to other passengers (or themselves.)
With your official ESA letter, you have been granted permission (not the legal right) to take your pet onboard an aircraft. Your pet may be of great comfort to you, but if the Airline staff believes that it will be a problem for other passengers, then you can indeed be refused.