Many people are turning to emotional support dogs to overcome their fear of flying and the anxiety that often accompanies air travel. There are important differences between service animals and emotional support dogs, so it is important to know what is and what is not allowed before you take to the skies. Emotional support dogs are a fairly new addition to air travel and not everyone is fully aware of the rules and regulations that govern these animals. By knowing what to expect from both the airline and TSA and security before you fly, you can avoid any unnecessary complications and stress.
Both you and your animal will need to go through the metal detector, both together or alone. Be aware that if the support dog sets off the alarm while going through with you, you will both be subject to a physical exam. As this can be a stressful occurrence, you may want to train your dog to walk through alone. They will be patted down by TSA staff whether or not they set off the alarm, so you may want to practice that with them as well. Navigating the airport security protocols will likely be the most stressful part of traveling with your emotional support dog so be prepared, and review the procedure again before you travel.
Traveling to Hawaii or any international destination may come with a quarantine period for your animal. Be sure to research the regulations for your final destination as they vary from country to country. Some destinations will waive the requirement for quarantine if your animal receives a clean bill of health from your veterinarian within a specified period of time prior to travel. Again, it is important to familiarize yourself with all regulations to avoid unnecessary stress when you travel.
The one unknown that can create an uncomfortable situation is how well your emotional support animal will travel. Many people do not like air travel and the same holds true for dogs. Talk to your vet about your dog’s overall temperament and strategies that you can use to calm them and relieve any discomfort that they may feel when flying. The last thing that you need is a service dog that ends up needing support rather than providing it to you.
Be sure to notify your airline at the time of booking that you will be traveling with an emotional support dog. Double check what documentation is required for the animal and any other rules or regulations that they may have. Airlines are not permitted to charge a few for support animals or any of their equipment. If they travel with a crate, for instance, the airline must check the item free of charge as a medical equipment.
Traveling with an emotional support animal is an effective way to relieve stress and allow you to fly without undue anxiety or discomfort. Prepare yourself for all eventualities and potential pitfalls and you will enjoy the flight with your support animal there to keep you calm.