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**Please note that as of 2021, most airlines no longer recognize emotional support animals. You must check with your country’s laws and regulations to see if ESAs are still accepted for travel. As of writing this, Icelandic Air is one airline that accepts ESAs**
If you have an emotional support animal registered and you are looking to fly with them, there are some things you will need to do beforehand before you can fly.
(If your dog/animal isn’t registered as an ESA yet, you’ll want to read this article I wrote on how to get an emotional support animal).
Throughout this article I’ll be referring to ESA’s as dogs, but note that this will apply to any type of emotional support animal (not just a dog).
Call The Airline
Before you book any tickets, call the airline you plan to travel with and confirm that they allow emotional support animals. Just because you have a letter from a mental health professional does not mean that your dog will be accepted and allowed on board.
When I flew with my ESA I had to have my tickets booked ahead of time (I flew internationally with KLM). KLM’s policy requires you to already have your tickets booked before you submit a request for an emotional support animal, however, it’s still best to call the airline you plan to travel with just to see what their requirements are for emotional support animals.
You will want to ask the airline what steps you need to take in order to bring your ESA in-flight with you.
Book Your Tickets
After speaking with the airline, you will now want to book your tickets. If are able to book tickets during a specific time, I recommend flying with your dog in the evening when they will be tired and ready to sleep regardless.
Fill Out The Paperwork
Each airline will have different paperwork for you to fill out, so it’s important you contact the airline to see where the paperwork is located on their website and how far in advanced you need to fill it out.
When I flew with KLM the process was very easy and quick, and I had my dog approved as my ESA within a week. With the paperwork, I was asked to provide my flight number as well as my documentation from my mental health professional.
Just because you submitted your paperwork does not mean your dog will be approved. If you haven’t received confirmation, I recommend calling the airline to follow up with your paperwork.
And once you do recieve confirmation, I would still follow up with the airline to confirm that your ESA is in fact booked on the flight. The first time I got approved with my dog as my ESA, I called and they actually hadn’t put a note in my file that she would be on the flight. Luckily, as I called well ahead of time, they were able to correct the mistake.
Within your follow up, ask what supplies are mandatory. Some airlines require your dog be in a diaper to prevent accidents, some require a muzzle. Make sure you know and have the right supplies so you don’t get denied at the airport.
Get Your Supplies
As well as the supplies the airline will recommend you have, I recommend getting specific supplies for your emotional support dog. I found these to be very helpful in making sure my dog was comfy and relaxed during the flight:
- “Do Not Pet” dog vest (because your dog is there to ease your anxiety, not to be passed around and pet by everyone on the plane)
- Fleece blanket (your dog will be laying at your feet and it can get cool and drafty on the floors of planes)
- Pee pads (for layovers in case your layover airport doesn’t have a spot for your dog to go to the bathroom)
- Collapsible food and water dishes
- ESA certificate/copies of paperwork
And that’s all. Please read my tips on flying with a dog in cabin to prepare you for flying with your ESA.
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