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Airlines Policies: Traveling with a Service Animal or Psychiatric Service Dog

Domestic Travel in the United States

The Air Carriers Act requires airlines to allow Service Animals and Psychiatric Service Dogs to travel in the cabin of the airline for free.

There are links below to the major US airlines to review their current policies.   

Service Animals:

  • The airline cannot charge a cabin pet fee. The pet can sit on your lap during flight. 
  • Airlines are not allowed to ask for a note from a doctor or therapist for a Service Animal.   They will ask you what service is provided by your animal. 
  • Common Service Animal tasks include high blood pressure, diabetics, pain management, seizures, hearing, mobility, autism, etc.
  • Pet must be on a leash if taken out of the pet carrier
  • A reservation for your Service Animal must be made prior to arriving at the airport
  • Some airlines have restrictions on how many hours of notice is required to provide them with notification that the you are traveling with your Service Animal
  • Make the reservation for your Service Animal early
  • Check with the airline to determine if there are any breed restrictions or forms that need to be completed for your pet. Some airlines require that a form be completed stating that your pet is well behaved.
  • Some airlines will ask you to sign a behavioral form stating your pet is well behaved and proof of current vaccines.  

There are additional requirements when traveling to Hawaii. 

Emotional Support Animals: 
(Note:  Psychiatric Service Dogs Travel For Free)

  • Department of Transportation does not allow Emotional Support Animals to travel for free on airlines
  • Emotional Support Animals travel under the same rules as cabin pets
  • You are required to pay a cabin pet fee and your pet must be in a carrier during the flight
  • A reservation for your cabin pet must be made prior to arriving at the airport
  • Some airlines have restrictions on how many hours of notice is required to provide them with notification that the you are traveling with your cabin pet
  • Make the reservation for your cabin pet early
  • Check with the airline to determine if there are any breed restrictions or forms that need to be completed for your pet. Some airlines require that a form be completed stating that your pet is well behaved.
  • Some airlines will ask you to sign a behavioral form stating your pet is well behaved and proof of current vaccines
  • See below for qualifications for Psychiatric Service Dogs.
    • The first thing you need to determine is whether your emotional issues rise to the level of a psychological disability.
    • A Psychiatric Service Dog is defined as a dog that has been trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to lessen the effects of psychiatric episodes. The biggest difference between an ESA and a PSD is that a PSD must be trained to perform, either on its own initiative or on command, a specific task that helps with your emotional or psychological issue. Bear in mind that not everyone’s issues constitute a disability. For instance, just getting nervous before a flight might just be considered generalized anxiety, but an inability to get on a plane for fear of flying without your dog could be considered a disability. 
    • If you are flying with a Psychiatric Service Dog,  particularly if your service dog was previously an ESA, we recommend that you consider getting a letter from a licensed therapist stating that you are eligible to have a service dog under the provisions of the ADA.
    • While there is currently no requirement that you show this letter to anyone, we think it’s a good idea to have one as a precaution should any issue arise at the airport. Having an assessment letter doesn’t make your dog a service dog but it gives you a  legal reason for training it to be one.
    • To be assessed by a licensed therapist for your need for a Psychiatric Service Dog 

International Travel

  • When travelling with your pet(s), there may be animal health requirements specific for that destination
  • As soon as you know your travel details, contact your local veterinarian to assist with the pet travel process
  • Factors to consider may include meeting time frames for obtaining a health certificate, updating vaccinations, diagnostic testing, or administration of medications/ treatments
  • The United States Department of Agriculture provides specific information required to travel with your pet to or from a foreign county.    Select the county you are travel to/from and the requirements are listed.

DOT Form – Required for all Service Animals and Psychiatric Service Dogs
(Must be submitted to airline when reservation is made)