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How to Avoid “Travel Hassle” when Traveling with your ESA

DOT Update: On December 2, 2020, the Department of Transportation announced that it is​ revising rules around flying with Emotional Support Animals. Airlines will no longer be required to recognize ESAs and provide reasonable accommodation in the flight cabin and/or free of charge. However, Service Animals (including Psychiatric Services Animals), who are trained to perform specific tasks associated with their owner’s disability, are still legally protected and eligible for those rights. The vast majority of ESAs are dogs, and dogs can be task-trained to perform many different functions. The new rule does not require Service Animal owners to incur the cost of training by third party schools or organizations. Owners are free to train their own dogs to perform a task or function for them.

Click here to connect with a licensed medical professional to qualify for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) or Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA) today.

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Upon setting out to travel with your emotional support animal (ESA), you may encounter people with attitudes ranging from supportive to confrontational. When negative attention comes your way, you can better cope with the situation if you prepare for it ahead of time. With the right tactics on your side, you can handle and avoid confrontation to make your public outings pleasant for you and your ESA. To get started, here are a few ways to prepare for potential confrontations while traveling with your ESA.

Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

When you know your rights you can confidently handle any situation that comes your way. Both state and federal laws protect your right to travel with an emotional support animal. In fact, the Air Carrier Access Act, or ACAA, is a federal law that allows you to bring your ESA in the cabin while flying with your pets.  Federal laws also protect your right to have proper ESA housing accommodations so you are not separated from your faithful companion Knowing your rights gives you the ability to deflect negative remarks and questions with confidence.

ESA or PSA Certification?

The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!

Refuse to Engage with Rude or Aggressive Individuals

As a protection under federal law, you never have to answer questions about your ESA’s legitimacy, training, or your medical conditions in any situation. Therefore, you are always well within your right to refuse to engage with anyone who questions your ESA, especially if they are rude or aggressive.  You can gently let them know that you have no obligation to answer their questions or simply ignore them outright. If that does not work, you can call for assistance. You can find assistance from a store employee, security guard or law enforcement if needed. You may be confronted by airline personnel or landlords. All you need to have available is a valid ESA Letter proving your right for their accommodation.

Bring Along Your Certified ESA Letter

Carrying your certified ESA letter for your emotional support animal can help to clear up any misunderstandings in an instant. Being prepared makes it is possible to quickly and efficiently resolve situations that could otherwise cause unwanted stress. An ESA housing letter, for example, can help ensure you have the accommodations you need, while carrying an ESA travel letter can ensure you can reach your destination without delay.

If All Else Fails, Remove Yourself from the Situation

If the rude or aggressive individual will not leave you alone, you may need to remove yourself from the situation. Although it is frustrating to have to leave, the safety of you and your ESA is paramount. You can always return later to resolve the situation using your ESA letter or other documentation, as needed.

If you need to acquire an ESA letter for your pet, you can contact our team at American Service Pets.  Or simply take the online pre-qualifying exam to get started today! 

Get Your ESA Today


Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.


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