Updated August 2021
Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are now considered pets, not service animals when flying on U.S. airlines.
That means you will no longer be able to bring your dog in the airline cabin with you; unless it complies with the airline’s pet policy.
There are airlines outside of the U.S. that still allow ESAs in the cabin.
For example, Aeromexico will allow ESAs however, they recently updated their ESA policy and now require a medical certificate from a psychiatrist (not psychologists).
This applies when you fly directly with them, not an affiliate airline such as Delta.
Read the section below on airlines that still accept ESAs.
ESA dogs must comply with the airline’s pet policy.
This means your dogs must fit in a carrier, fit under the seat in front of you, and be under a certain weight.
Only dogs are considered Service Animals (SA) or Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA)
This means airlines are no longer required to allow miniature horses, cats, rabbits, birds, and all other service animals that airlines are currently required to allow.
For a dog to be a SA/PSA it must meet certain criteria.
The criteria DOT (Department of Transportation) requires for service animals is the dog must be trained for certain tasks.
A few examples:
- Search an area/room before the individual enters (for a person with PTSD).
- Assisting an individual during a seizure
- Help individuals who are blind or have low vision.
- Help to pull a wheelchair.
Also, on flights eight hours or longer, you must acknowledge that the service animal
- will not need to relieve himself OR
- can relieve himself without causing sanitary issues; must explain how.
Summary of New Regulations For ESA & Service Animals
|New Definition of Service Animal||A service animal is a DOG regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.|
|Emotional Support Animals (ESA)||ESAs do not perform certain tasks. Airlines are not required to recognize emotional support animals as service animals anymore and may treat them as pets. Check for each airline’s pet policy guidelines.|
|Example of a Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA)||PSAs performs a certain task such as searching a room before the person enters (person with PTSD).|
|Treatment of Psychiatric Service Animals||Psychiatric service animals are treated the same as other service animals that are individually trained to do work or perform a task for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability.|
|Species||Airlines are permitted to limit service animals to dogs only.|
|Health, Behavior and Training Form||As a condition of transportation, airlines are permitted to require passengers to complete a form acknowledging that the service animal has been trained for certain tasks and meets Department of Transportation (DOT) Service Animal requirements.|
|Relief Confirmation||As a condition of transportation, flights eight hours or longer, airlines are permitted to require passengers to complete a form acknowledging that the service animal (a) will not need to relieve himself OR (b) can relieve himself without causing sanitary issues; must explain how.|
|Number of Service Animals per Passenger||Airlines are permitted to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals.|
|Large Dog Service Animals||Airlines are permitted to require a service animal to fit on their handler’s lap or within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft.|
|Control of Service Animals||Airlines are permitted to require a service animal to be harnessed, leashed, or otherwise tethered in areas of the airport that they own, lease, or control, and on the aircraft.|
|Service Animal Breed or Type||Airlines are prohibited from refusing to transport a service animal based solely on breed or generalized physical type, as distinct from an individualized assessment of the animal’s behavior and health.|
|Check-In Requirements||Airlines are not permitted to require a passenger with a disability to physically check-in at the airport, rather than using the online check-in process, on the basis that the individual is traveling with a service animal. Airlines may require a passenger with a disability seeking to travel with a service animal to provide the service animal form(s) at the passenger’s departure gate on the date of travel.|
|Advance Notice Requirements||Airlines may require individuals traveling with a service animal to provide all forms up to 48 hours in advance of the date of travel if the passenger’s reservation was made prior to that time.|
For more information on the new regulations from the Department of Transportation, view their document “Traveling by Air with Service Animals”.
Page 18 and page 20 are the service animal transportation forms.
Mexican airlines that allow ESAs
Many Mexican airlines still allow ESAs to travel in the airline’s cabin with their owner.
VivaAerobús – Within Mexico and from Mexico to Miami. ESA info
Volaris – ESAs can travel at no cost on flights within Mexico and from/to Central America only. ESA link
Aeroméxico – accepts emotional-support dogs onboard their flights, They have recently updated their ESA policy and now require a medical certificate from a psychiatrist (not psychologists). ESA link
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