Today, we will be taking a look at some of the airlines that still support and allow emotional support animals (ESAs).
By the time 2020 came to an end, there was some important news for ESA owners. As far as most people know, there used to be a law that necessitates airlines to allow ESAs on a plane with their owners, when the owners have the required documentation obtained from a licensed mental health professional. This rule changed from January 11th, 2021. By the end of 2020, the United States Department of Transportation stated that after January 11th, 2021, airlines would no longer be required to allow emotional support animals to accompany their owners on their flight journey.
This has been a drastic change that impacted the lives of millions of ESA owners all over the world as it is a huge drawback for the people facing invisible disabilities. However, people should not lose all their hope in hearing this matter. You heard it right. ESA owners would still be allowed to fly along with their emotional support animals. Even though DOT won’t be requiring airlines to allow ESAs, it is not mandatory. The decision solely depends on the respective airlines, whether or not they would allow ESAs on a flight. Anyhow, some airlines have declared that they would still continue to allow ESAs to accompany their owners.
This is actually the beginning stage of DOT’s new changes and we have yet to see how these rules would impact ESAs and air travel. Most of the airlines have not yet given an official statement about whether they will prohibit ESAs or continue allowing them. In case you are traveling by the help of an airline that still continues to allow Emotional Support Animals on a plane, ESACertificate.org will help you to get in touch with a licensed healthcare professional. By doing so, you can check whether you qualify for an ESA or not.
Changes will be made to this post every now and then to update the list of airlines that have confirmed their policies regarding emotional support animals. Airlines constantly make changes to ESA policies. Before making a travel plan with your ESA, it is highly recommended that you call the respective airline and confirm their current policies before hastily booking a ticket.
Airlines that still accept Emotional Support Animals
Airlines that are considered to be Disability progressive and ESA friendly can still allow ESAs on their flights, even there is no legal obligation for them to do so. Given below are the airlines that still accept emotional support animals.
- Air Canada
- Sun Country
Air Canada would still allow ESAs along with the owners on their flights even after January 11th, 2021. After contacting an Air Canada representative, we came to know that their airline focuses on taking care of their disabled passengers. Therefore, they won’t deny providing accommodation to the people with ESAs traveling around Canada and the US.
Fortunately, Southwest Airlines stated on social media that there won’t be any imminent changes in their ESA policy as of now. That happens to be amazing news to ESA owners making Southwest Airlines a favorable option for the people who are owners of assistance animals. Optimistically, we can anticipate that some other airlines might also follow Southwest Airlines’ ESA policy and continue to allow ESAs. In order to fly along with your ESA on a Southwest Airlines plane, it is mandatory for you to have an ESA letter.
Sun Country Airlines
Sun Country Airlines has also declared that they would continue to allow emotional support animals on their planes. So far, they are not planning on forbidding passengers with mental disabilities to bring along their ESA. In order to travel along with your ESA on a Sun Country plane, you must book your tickets using their website SunCountry.com. After that, you should fill out their ESA form and return it to them at least 48 hours before your flight departure time.
Volaris also joined the team and announced that it won’t discontinue its ESA policy. This is actually very good news for the people who want to travel to/from Mexico along with their emotional support animal.
WestJet is yet another alternative for the people who frequently travel along with their emotional support animals. WestJet offers its services in various regions such as Canada, the USA, Europe, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Usually, to bring along an emotional support animal, you would be required to have an ESA letter acquired from a licensed mental health professional. Along with that, the healthcare professional would also be needed to fill out a form provided by the respective airline. In most cases, airlines need the ESA documents to be submitted at least 48 hours before the actual departure. Suppose if you want an ESA letter or need help with filling out the airline forms, any of the friendly licensed mental health professionals in the network of ESA Certificate can be able to help you.
Airlines that no longer accept ESAs:
Earlier, we have seen the airlines that still allow ESAs on their flights. Now, let us have a look at some of the airlines that no longer accept emotional support animals:
- Alaska Airlines
- Allegiant Air
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Jet Blue
- Spirit Airlines
- United Airlines
The above-mentioned airlines don’t accept ESAs anymore and therefore, they will treat your ESA just like a normal pet. Usually, pets are imposed with additional fees and airlines might have certain types of restrictions concerning the size, weight, and breed. Adding to that, some pets won’t be allowed to fly in the cabin of a flight and hence should be kept in the cargo section. There is even a possibility that some types of animals might be completely forbidden to travel on a flight.
The step taken by these airlines is a huge drawback to most ESA owners’ ability to travel comfortably on a plane. The reason can either be the hefty amount of fees (which can be around $175 per trip) or the restrictions of the plane objecting the animal to be allowed in the cabin (or the plane). After January 11th, 2021, while traveling with an ESA on an airline, you should contact your airline or check with their website in order to confirm that they still accept emotional support animals before booking tickets.
What will the future of ESAs and Air Travel be like?
When the new changes were brought forth by DOT, most ESA owners and disability advocacy groups vigorously opposed them all over the country. These new changes were made because airlines complained about the efforts made by them for accepting ESAs while having no additional costs. These efforts included the cost as well as the inconvenience.
Like we discussed before, these new rules made by DOT are liberal and not at all mandatory. This makes it clear that airlines have the full authority when it comes to continuing allowing ESAs, regardless of the fact that they are not legally obliged to do so. If the airlines still accept allowing ESAs on their planes, they will be able to increase the loyalty of ESA owning customers. Another major thing that needs to be taken into consideration is that airlines can choose to make changes to their ESA policies and procedures if they want.
Hope still exists with the change of leadership in DOT as the ESA regulations and rules related to other types of assistance animals would be revised and changed in a way favorable to disabled persons. Despite the fact that ESA owners are facing difficulties with air travel, they can still enjoy the federal rights related to housing. Not only that, but individual states are taking up the necessary measures for the protection of ESA owners. As days go by, more and more individuals, as well as therapists, are getting to know about the benefits of emotional support animals for mental health. The procedure of using ESAs for these purposes will not slow down anywhere in the nearby future, instead it is set to increase.
Qualify for your ESA letter online (linked)
If you wanted to work along with a licensed mental therapist to get qualified for an Emotional Support Animal, ESA Certificate can be able to help you.