Emotional Support Animals

Navigate Holiday Traveling with a Service Dog

traveling with a service dog

Snow is falling down, Christmas trees are going up, and the holiday season is officially upon us. For many people, the holidays can be filled with stress, anger, grief, and depression. The fact that it is supposed to be a happy, joy filled season sometimes makes it much worse for those who cannot be. Having a psychiatric service dog by your side can help ease any of the negative emotions brought on by the holidays and help you function in day-to-day life. However, travel laws regarding support and service animals have changed over the last couple years. Before you do any holiday traveling, check to make sure you are properly prepared.

Official Laws About Traveling with a service dog

Service animals are considered necessary medical equipment and are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the case of travel, they are also protected by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which prohibits discrimination towards individuals based on their disability and their need for a service animal.

Psychiatric service dogs are considered service animals and protected by these. They are allowed in airports and on airplanes and permitted to ride in the airplane cabin with you, unlike other pets and animals.

Official Laws About Traveling with Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals, however, are no longer allowed to ride with their owners on airplanes and must abide by the same restrictions as pets. If your emotional support animal performs specific tasks for you in relation to your mental illness or disability, then it may qualify as a psychiatric service dog. If you can register it as such, then you will not have to worry about travel restrictions, which is a huge plus.

Booking and Traveling with a Service Dog

When booking your traveling plans in advance, you will need to fill out the U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Transportation Form. The form asks all the basics, including your name, your service animal’s name, and description, as well as asking you to confirm the animal’s health and training. It is important to note the ADA allows service animal owners to train their own animals, so you can put your own name in the trainer’s name box on the form.

After you are done, the airline will need to approve your document.
If you are booking a flight that is 8 hours or more, then you will need to complete and submit a U.S. Department of Transportation Relief Attestation Form. This form asks additional questions about if and how your service animal will relieve itself during the flight. If it does need to during that time period, it will need to be able to do so in a sanitary manner, such as in a dog diaper.

Traveling with a service dog and Airport Check-In 

If any staff ask about your service dog, remember that under ADA guidelines, there are only two questions you are required to answer.
Is this dog a service animal required for a disability?
What task has the dog been trained to perform?

Aside from this information, you are not required to provide any information about your disability. You are also not required to have a vest, collar, or identifying gear for your service animal, but it is highly encouraged for clarity to those around you.

Psychiatric Service Dog Letter of Certification

One other key thing you will need to travel with your furry friend is a psychiatric service dog letter of certification. This is a letter written and signed by a qualified medical or mental health professional that states your need for a service animal. You can easily get one from United Support Animal. Be prepared for your holiday travels by talking to one of our qualified experts today!