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2023 Service Animal Travel Guide for Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines is the airline of choice for many Americans for several reasons: low base fares, frequent sales and promotions, a la carte pricing, flexible seating options, and, in many cases, shorter turnaround times. If you plan to travel with an animal on Spirit Airlines this year, be sure you review the 2023 Spirit Airlines Service Animal Policy. Knowing this policy inside and out will ensure a smooth flight for you and your companion or service animal.

Table of Contents

Difference between an ESA and PSA When Flying with Spirit Airlines

In January 2021, the Department of Transportation updated requirements around emotional support animals (ESAs). As of that date, ESAs now must travel as pets, for which specific guidelines and fees apply. Service animals in training and therapy animals are also regarded by Spirit Airlines as “pets” and therefore are subject to the pet policy of Spirit Airlines rather than the service animal policy.

The Spirit Airlines service animal policy only encompasses dogs (no other species of animal), and these dogs must be trained to assist their human passenger to mitigate a disability. Psychiatric service animals (PSAs) fall into this category as well. Spirit Airlines only allows two service animals per passenger; additional animals may travel as pets if they meet the pet requirements.

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Requirements for Compliance with the Spirit Airlines Service Animal Policy

Spirit Airlines Service Animal Policy - filling out the DOT form

Submission of the DOT Form

Forty-eight hours before your scheduled flight, you must submit the U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation Form (commonly called the “DOT Form”) online. 

 

This form is your legal sign-off on a few areas regarding your service animal:

  • Your service dog’s health and vaccination status
  • Your service dog’s training and behavior
  • Your pledge to keep your service dog restrained at all times and your understanding of your liability if your dog causes any damage

If you can’t submit the DOT Form 48 hours in advance of your flight, you can still submit a physical copy of the form at the ticket counter or gate. In this case, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time before your flight for a manual review and approval by Spirit Airlines staff.

On the Spirit Airlines service animal policy page, reiterated in bold is the fact that the DOT Form is a government document, and “It is a Federal crime to knowingly and willfully make materially false entries, statements or representations on this form.”

Additional notes about the DOT Form:

 

  • A new DOT Form should be submitted for every new reservation
  • A separate DOT Form should be completed for each service animal
  • The date of the form should be on or after the date of travel purchase

Verbal Attestation That Your Dog Is a Trained Service Animal

Called out specifically on the Spirit Airlines website is the “credible verbal assurance requirement.” This requirement states that you must verbally attest, to a Spirit Airlines staff member, to your service dog’s ability to perform a task related to helping you with a disability.

Sometimes this can be uncomfortable or awkward, so we at American Serviced Pets recommend traveling with a Certificate of Obedience and a Certificate of Task Training, both of which you receive when you complete I Train Academy, our online service dog training program.

Here’s more information about I Train Academy:

I Train Academy is the leading service animal training program because you are able to self-train your service dog at a fraction of the cost of traditional service dog training programs. It’s all online, taught by professional trainer Jas Leverette (trainer to many A-list stars), and it includes task training such as notification, reminders, deep pressure therapy, assistive activities, and more.

Get started with I Train Academy today to fly with your dog as a trained service animal.

Obedience of Your Service Animal

Disruptive or aggressive behavior of any type is not tolerated by service animals flying with Spirit Airlines. Again, this is another reason to enroll in I Train Academy, which has a mandatory obedience training component that includes:

 

  • Training tools
  • Ignition
  • Motivation
  • Overcoming distractions
  • Socialization
  • Agility 
  • Behavior modification
  • Problem solving

 

Getting your dog to a place of obedience will ensure a smooth flight for everyone involved.

Spirit Airlines Service Animal Policy - dog in carrier

Adherence to Service Animal Seating Requirements

Service dogs may not sit in emergency exit rows on Spirit Airlines, nor can they sit on a seat in the plane. Small service dogs (no larger than a 2-year-old child) are permitted to sit in your lap (exceptions apply). Large service dogs may sit on the floor space in front of your feet, but they must never extend into an aisle or into another passenger’s floor space. The largest of service dogs may need another seat to be purchased for them so they can spread out a bit more – or you may need to upgrade to a “Big Front Seat” on the plane.

To Sum it Up...

Flying with a service animal on Spirit Airlines is not too different than flying with a service animal on American Airlines, United Airlines, or another major United States airline. Your dog must be obedient, your dog must be trained to assist you with a task, you must submit the required documentation prior to your flight, and you must keep your dog confined to a specific space while aboard the aircraft, to name a few requirements. As long as you read the Spirit Airlines service animal policy in full and abide by it, you and your service animal should be in for a safe and pleasant flight to your domestic destination.

Note: international destinations may have a different set of requirements, so call Spirit Guest Service at 1-855-728-3555 if flying abroad.

This article summarizes Spirit Airlines’ service animal policy as of August 2023. Policies are subject to change, so please review the latest requirements on the Spirit Airlines website prior to planning a flight with your service animal.

 

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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!

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