How would an Airline approved ESA letter look like?

Jan 19, 2021 | Dogs, Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animal, otherwise known as an ESA, is known for helping people suffering from mental and emotional health conditions for many years. A service dog will have access rights to visit any place along with their owners such as restaurants, hotels, and other public places. However, an emotional support animal can only be allowed in the cabin of an airplane and in apartments or condos, or in rental buildings with no-pet policies.

In this article, we will cover the details regarding what airlines will be required from an ESA letter. Therefore, one should not try to fake an ESA letter and obtain accurate information about what a legitimate emotional support animal letter has to contain.


ESA letter requirements for an Airline

First of all, you will be permitted to travel along with an emotional support animal in the cabin of an airplane. Anyhow, it is not as simple as showing up along with your canine companion and have an expectation to get seated. Airlines would require you to submit a legitimate ESA letter.

According to Transportation.gov, airlines require an ESA letter to include the following:

  • Your condition is recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
  • You require the animal to be present throughout the duration of the flight or at the destination of the flight.
  • You are currently under the professional care of a licensed mental health professional.
  • The letter must be written on the letterhead of the specific mental health professional.
  • The date, type of license of the mental health professional, and the state in which the professional has acquired the license.
  • The letter should have been written within a time period of 1 year of your flight’s date.

In most cases, the airlines will need you to submit a notice 48 hours in advance before your flight, so that you can travel along with your emotional support animal. There might be some other rules as well, therefore, be sure to check with the individual air carrier to make certain that you have obtained all the necessary information before you can check-in. You can find some additional information about the airline policies for flying with an ESA here.


Can I fly internationally with an ESA?

Yes, you can be able to fly internationally with your emotional support dog internationally.

Any foreign airline which is either flying from or to the United States should have to allow emotional support animals on their flights. In spite of that, foreign airlines would only consider dogs as emotional support animals.

Please observe that according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “U.S. airlines traveling to the foreign countries are subject to the rules and requirements of that specific country concerning the acceptance of service animals. This is due to the fact that not all countries will allow service animals from foreign countries.” Therefore, make sure that your destination country will allow your emotional support animal. You should also know about the additional requirements (if any) in order to enter/exit the foreign country in a legal way.


Do I have to get a new ESA letter every year in order to fly?

The U.S. Department of Transportation states that an airline will require you to submit the documentation that has been created one year prior to the date of your scheduled flight or after that.

This means that the airlines would require an ESA letter from you which has been written within one year of your travel date. For instance, if you are traveling on 1st December 2020, then your ESA letter should have been written on 1st December 2019 or after that. In case your ESA letter has been written on 30th November, then you need to get a new ESA letter for your flight.


Sample ESA letter

You can take a look at the sample ESA letter given below to get an idea of how a professional and legitimate ESA letter would look like. Please notice that the words in the letter need not have to be exactly the same as given below. Different mental health professionals might have different versions of writing a letter, which is written on their official letterhead.

Note: the wording provided in the letter depicted above is for informational purposes only. Each doctor will have their own text concerning the recommendation and ESA letter.


Never use a fake ESA letter

The saying “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is” is more accurate when it is used to refer to a fake ESA letter. Don’t become a victim of the deceptive online vendors that will guarantee instant qualification as well as an ESA letter for a low amount of money. This is a warning sign because a genuine licensed mental health professional has to take an assessment of you. This process is usually known to be time-consuming and will cost you more than $49.

Real ESA letters will have to be written by a licensed medical healthcare professional, who is providing professional care to you. Some airlines might also need you to provide additional documentation, which has to be completed by your mental health professional.

Qualify for a genuine ESA letter that has been obtained from a Licensed Mental Health Professional


You and your Emotional Support Animal

The ADA allows you to fly in the cabin along with your emotional support animal.

It has been found out that there are more than 100,000 mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, psychiatric registered nurses, licensed marriage and family therapists, etc., only in the United States. Anybody among these licensed professionals can recommend you an ESA letter if you really need one. Therefore, don’t be afraid to seek support when the issue is about mental health because you will only feel better with it.

According to the ADA, one of the rights you have is the allowance to travel with your ESA in the cabin of an airplane. Nonetheless, if you really don’t require an ESA and are just trying to bring your pet along to fly, you might have to reconsider your plan. It is not a good idea to provide false information just in order to save a small amount of fee.

If you don’t want your dog to be kept in a cargo hold, then try to find a friend, relative, neighbor, or a boarding kennel that would take care of your dog while you are away.

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