Flying with your dog as an Emotional Support Animal has many benefits: you get the reassurance and comfort of having your dog with you on your flight, your dog gets to travel with you instead of under the airplane, and you even get to bypass the typical pet travel fee that most airlines charge. Here are three things to know about getting your dog qualified as an official Emotional Support Animal before your flight:
You Need an Official Letter
In order to qualify your dog as an Emotional Support Animal, you need an official letter from a mental health professional. This can be your therapist, mental health social worker, or psychiatrist. The letter should explain that you have been diagnosed with an emotional or mental condition (such as depression or anxiety) and that traveling with your dog is necessary to make flying more comfortable for you.
The letter should be on official letterhead and include your doctor's full name, license number, and phone number in case the airline decides to call and verify the information in the official letter.
You Should Call Your Airline Ahead of Time
While there's a chance your gate agent will let you on your flight with an ESA without advance notice, they are not required to do so and you are risking being turned away from your flight. The best approach is to call your airline as soon as you have your official letter and let them know you would like to travel with your dog as an ESA.
Make Sure Your Dog's a Good Fit
Not every dog is cut out to be an ESA. If your dog gets anxious or aggressive in confined spaces or around strangers, he will probably have a difficult time flying in the airplane cabin. If your dog is likely to whine, bark, or lunge at people during your flight, keep in mind that this is not only distressing for your fellow passengers, but also means your dog will likely make you feel more anxious on your flight, which defeats the purpose of an ESA.
A good candidate for an in-flight ESA is typically a calm, well-trained, quiet pup who truly helps you with your anxiety, PTSD, or other emotional issue.
By following these tips, you will be able to fly with your dog in the cabin with you if you decide he makes a good Emotional Support Animal. To learn more about the process, contact services like Next Generation Psychology.