Flying with an emotional support dog can offer comfort and assistance to individuals who rely on the presence of their furry companions for emotional well-being. But while airlines are required to permit trained service dogs to fly they are not required to permit emotional support dogs.

Recently, rules for flying with emotional support dogs have changed. Most airlines no longer allow them to fly in-cabin and treat them like regular pets, placing them in crates as cargo. However, a few international airlines, like Latam Airlines and Volaris, still accept emotional support dogs. So, if you’re planning to travel with your emotional support dog, check the airline policies to make sure they’re welcome on board.

Understanding the regulations, requirements, and considerations involved in flying with an emotional support dog is crucial to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey. This guide will explore the essentials of flying with an emotional support dog, including documentation, airline policies, and tips for a positive travel experience.

Travelling with pet. Dog on plane board near window. Airline pet transportation service

Understanding Emotional Support Dogs

An emotional support dog is a specially trained canine that provides comfort, companionship, and emotional support to individuals who have been diagnosed with emotional or psychological conditions. These dogs offer a range of benefits to their owners during air travel, including reducing anxiety, providing a calming presence, and offering a sense of security and stability. They can help passengers manage stress, alleviate symptoms of panic or anxiety disorders, and provide a source of comfort and emotional stability throughout the flight. Emotional support dogs play a crucial role in promoting the well-being and mental health of their owners, ensuring a more positive and relaxed travel experience.

If you are seeking an answer to How to get my dog service certified, don’t forget to check our article!

Can Emotional Support Dogs Fly?

Previously, all airlines allowed emotional support dogs to fly with their owners. However, recent changes have been introduced for Emotional Support Animals (ESA) owners as of January 11, 2021. One of the significant changes is that airlines now treat emotional dogs as ordinary pets.  The effect of this is that your dog may not be given the opportunity to fly in-cabin with you but will be placed in a crate and treated as cargo. 

Here’s the good news! While airlines are no longer required to allow emotional support dogs to fly in-cabin with their owners, some disability-progressive and ESA-friendly international airlines still accept ESAs on flights. In America, Latam Airlines and Volaris still accept emotional support dogs in flight. For international flights, you need to book with the following airlines:

  • China Airlines (Emotional support dog only)
  • KLM (Emotional support dog only, from 4 months and older)
  • Singapore Air (Emotional support dog only, from 4 months and older)

Airline Policies For Emotional Support Dogs 

Airlines that allow emotional support dogs in flight usually require proper documentation before allowing dogs on board.  One very important document you should secure is an ESA letter. 

An ESA letter, also known as an Emotional Support Animal letter, is a document issued by a licensed mental health professional that certifies the need for an emotional support animal (ESA) as part of a person’s treatment for an emotional or psychological condition. The letter typically states that the individual has a diagnosed mental health disorder and that the presence of an ESA provides therapeutic benefits and support.

Preparing to Fly with an Emotional Support Dog

dog on the plane looking out the window

Like flying with your pet, there are several preparations that you need to do to fly with an emotional support dog. Here are some quick tips you can follow when preparing an emotional support dog for flight:

  • Obtain an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.
  • Familiarize yourself with airline policies and regulations regarding flying with an ESA.
  • Notify the airline in advance about your intention to fly with an emotional support dog.
  • Ensure your dog is well-behaved, properly trained and comfortable in public settings.
  • Consider the comfort and needs of your dog during the flight, including bathroom breaks and hydration.
  • Pack necessary supplies such as food, water, treats, medication, and comfort items for your dog.
  • Arrive early at the airport to allow for smooth check-in and security procedures.
  • Have all required documentation, including the ESA letter, readily accessible.
  • Follow guidelines for securing your dog during the flight and provide any necessary equipment or restraints.
  • Maintain a calm and composed demeanor to help keep your dog relaxed during the journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all airlines accept emotional support dogs?

Not all airlines accept emotional support dogs. You need to inquire about the airlines from your country and see if they accept ESA owners. 

What documentation for flying with an emotional support dog do I need? 

When flying with an emotional support dog, you would usually be required to provide an ESA letter along with other documentation, including a health card and airline clearance. The rules can vary depending on your airline of choice so you need to inquire.


Flying with emotional support dogs can be beneficial for people who have anxiety. It can boost morale and confidence. However, since the recent changes in airline policies, not all airlines now accept emotional support dogs to travel in-flight or in-cabin with their owners. If you’re keen on bringing your pet for emotional support, you must find a plane that allows such a situation.

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