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Best airlines for ESA [Emotional Support Animal]

Best airlines for ESA [Emotional Support Animal]

Old Oct 24, 19, 9:31 pm
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Best airlines for ESA [Emotional Support Animal]

I recently got my ESA letter, I am trying to figure out the best airlines to travel with my pet. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old Oct 24, 19, 10:26 pm
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Suggest taking a look at the Travel With Pets Forum on Flyertalk.
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Old Oct 24, 19, 10:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Jose Holmes View Post
I recently got my ESA letter, I am trying to figure out the best airlines to travel with my pet. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Travel from where to where?
Is a genuine Emotional Support Animal (ESA) or a pet? Most are just pets
https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-pets-645/
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Old Oct 24, 19, 11:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Jose Holmes;31663845[b
]I recently got my ESA letter,[/b] I am trying to figure out the best airlines to travel with my pet. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
That's honest at least....
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Old Oct 24, 19, 11:42 pm
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According to OP, this is a pet and somehow he got himself an ESA letter.
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Old Oct 25, 19, 1:02 am
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Welcome to Flyertalk @Jose Holmes.

Please follow the redirect as we relocate your query.

Also, I'd carefully read rules of perspective carriers as this is an area that is currently in flux. Rules are being tightened on this.

~beckoa, co-moderator Information Desk

Last edited by beckoa; Oct 25, 19 at 1:11 am Reason: Updated
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Old Oct 25, 19, 1:25 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
According to OP, this is a pet and somehow he got himself an ESA letter.
you sound surprised- Iím shocked!
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Old Oct 25, 19, 3:23 am
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Dear OP,

you can fly any airline line with your pet you just had to pay. Now you can fly that pet without charge so any airline except these is fine...
UA
AA
DL

I fly those :-)
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Old Oct 25, 19, 4:24 am
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Originally Posted by Collierkr View Post
Dear OP,

you can fly any airline line with your pet you just had to pay. Now you can fly that pet without charge so any airline except these is fine...
UA
AA
DL

I fly those :-)
And here I was expecting everyone to recommend the airlines they don't fly...!
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Old Oct 25, 19, 8:03 am
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As ESAs are a US-specific thing, I assume you're located there and are looking for advice for this region. Apart from US and Canadian airlines, ESAs are not accepted on board anywhere else in the world (except on direct flights to and from the USA where airlines are legally forced to accept them).
As previous posters have mentioned, rules are being tightened across the board, and an "ESA letter" won't cut it anymore. This is the case for all the network airlines - American, Delta and United all have become more restrictive and increased their requirements considerably over the last year. See the announcements of restrictive changes that AA published in 2018 and again in 2019.
Check out the policies linked above and then decide which airline will suit your needs best. If the networks of Southwest and Alaska will work for you, add them, too. Stay away from the ULCCs like Frontier if your dog is more than pint-sized as seating is far too tight for larger animals to fit comfortably - the only exception to this is Spirit with its Big Front Seat.
Personally, I can't report bad things about AA - I`ve been flying them for a decade and hundreds of thousands of miles with a service dog in all classes of service and recent changes didn't impact our travel experience much at all. Crews and ground staff in general have been treating us very well, and they remain our airline of choice.

Especially if your dog is larger, network, aircraft and seat selection is important. More important than minor acceptance policy differences. What you need to be looking for is floor space, more floor space and even more floor space (without encroaching on your fellow passengers) followed by fewest connections. Familiarize yourself with the routings, aircraft and seating configurations airlines are using on the routes you intend to fly with your dog, and select your preferred airline according to what will work best. Example: If you want to fly between Miami and Los Angeles, AA flies this route nonstop (always preferable with animals) and one of the daily departures is on an internationally configured four-class 777 widebody with a PE cabin - the bulkhead seats in which are the best place to be for a large dog apart from the eight-seat F cabin.
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Old Oct 25, 19, 10:14 am
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American and United have both been great. I've flown across the world with a dog on both carriers. No hassle at all: at airports, clubs, etc.

I ensure that all of my paperwork is honest, accurate, and readily available.
American's "SAC" desk has always been helpful. If you have questions, give them a call. They've always been so supportive and thoughtful.

The only snag now is that United banned ESANs from flights longer than eight hours. (I'm not sure about the legality of that, but it just means that I'll fly on another airline.)

I've also flown on Southwest, where they were a bit more fussy. They seemed to do a bit more eye rolling, but they also explained that they've had a deluge fo fake paperwork. On the other hand, the cabin crew on Southwest individually reminded me, "If the masks drop, put yours on first, then put one on the dog." I'm glad they have the policy to remind everyone.

My advice:
- I keep a bound binder of all of the paperwork: vaccinations, letters, and individual forms for each of the US carriers.
- I carry forms for American, Delta, Southwest, and United because I've had cancellations, re-routes, delays. It's much easier to have the paperwork ready in case of a change in airline.
- I'm fortunate to usually fly in first class. My dog is small, but economy class is tight for a flight longer than--say--90 minutes. To be fair, it's tough without a dog.

A couple of weeks ago, I flew for the first time without having to medicated. It was the first time in (I think) 11 years. That's all thanks to the dog. Arf!
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Old Oct 25, 19, 12:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Mats View Post
The only snag now is that United banned ESANs from flights longer than eight hours. (I'm not sure about the legality of that, but it just means that I'll fly on another airline.)
United doesn't have an outright ban of ESANs on flights longer than eight hours. Instead, they decide this on an individual basis. If you can prove that your animal is trained accordingly and have flown intercontinental flights together without incident in the past, you'll still be able to bring your ESAN on a United TATL or TPAC flight. The agents at the Accessibility Desk apparently are empowered to make these decisions.
I just went through the process with a friend who wanted to fly SFO-FRA (11 hours flight time) on the nonstop flight instead of having to connect in EWR as the UA agent first wanted her to do, citing the new 'no ESANs on flights over 8 hours' rule. She sent in additional documentation and was OK'd for the long flight without any further issues.

Here's the official text from the UA website:
Whether an emotional support or psychiatric service animal is safely capable of traveling on flights eight hours or more in duration will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Passengers may be held responsible for cleaning fees required as a result of any sanitation issues caused by their emotional support or psychiatric service animalís travel. United will consider all relevant information, including information from the required documentation, when determining whether an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal may safely travel in the aircraft cabin on the passengerís itinerary.
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Old Oct 25, 19, 11:29 pm
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bhomburg that's great news! I'm glad that they're willing to use judgment and flexibility.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 3:13 pm
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Thank you so much guys.
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