A Service Dog
and ESA Blog

Subscribe for our monthly newsletter


One monthly email • Unsubscribe anytime.

If Emotional Support Animals Are Banned From Planes

April 26, 2022

Airlines are lobbying for stricter rules regarding emotional support animals on airplanes. In recent years, the number of people flying with an emotional support animal has ballooned and airlines feel frustrated by what they feel are people blatantly taking advantage of the system to fly their animal for free…and sometimes even endangering the passengers and crew with an untrained animal. But while there are undoubtedly fraudsters banking on a free ride for their pet, banning all emotional support animals will leave many travelers who genuinely need their emotional support animal vulnerable and unable to fly.

The proposed changes by the Transportation Department would allow only service animals in the main cabin of the airplane, while asking that emotional support animals be treated as pets. What exactly does that mean?

What’s the Difference Between A Service Animal, Emotional Support Animal, and A Pet?

Well, a service animal is a dog (and in some cases, a miniature horse) trained to perform major life tasks to assist people with physical or severe psychiatric impairments/disabilities.

An emotional support animal on the other hand is like a pet in that it does not need to be trained. It has, however, been prescribed by a licensed mental health professional, such as a licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The animal is part of the treatment program for this person and is meant to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional/psychological disability.

And we all know what a pet is.

But, how does the definition of your animals’ role translate into flying?

The Various Animals and Their Places Onboard a Plane

Right now, both a service animal and an emotional support animal are treated with special privileges onboard planes, while pets are treated with…a few less rights. For example, both a service animal and an emotional support animal is allowed to be both in the cabin of the plane and outside of a cage (such as on their person’s lap).

Neither a service animal nor an emotional support animal costs anything to travel with, while travelling with a pet incurs a fee.

To summarize, taking a pet on board involves the following:

  • Paying a fee (up to 125$ each direction)
  • Keeping the animal in a cage under the seat, size permitting, or
  • Flying the animal as cargo

Plenty of people do not want to pay the fee, but more troubling for many is flying an animal as cargo. For one thing, crates can be knocked about and treated like luggage, without consideration for the animal inside. Also, luggage can fall on the cage during turbulence. For another thing, changes in temperature and air pressure can be more pronounced in the cargo, and it’s very loud, with lots of strange smells. All of this compounds to mean that a ride in cargo is an overall distressing experience for any animal.

Of course, that is not even to mention the experience of the person flying without their emotional support animal. The problem is that a person who needs to be able to stroke their emotional support animal to stave off severe anxiety or PTSD, will be out of luck if this ruling goes through. Many will simply stop flying. Why do people feel so strongly about needing their emotional support animal on board the flight?

Why Do People Fly with Their Emotional Support Animals?

Some need to have their animal within range to stroke the entire duration of a flight to feel relaxed and at ease. Others are comforted just by being close to their animal. Emotional support animals can reduce stress, soothe anxiety and alleviate emotional traumas.

For some, flying itself is a trigger and can be stressful without their emotional support animal.

For others, while they are comfortable traveling and don’t really need to have their emotional support animal on the plane, they will need to have it on the other end of the flight. And for the reasons mentioned above, many people simply don’t want to put their ESA in cargo—especially considering their reliance on these animals.

So, if cargo is not a welcome or even acceptable option, but the emotional support animal is needed for insomnia or severe stress once at the destination, then what is to be done?


While it is true that exorbitant pet fees have likely been the prime motivation for some people making their pet into an emotional support animal, there are plenty of others who are motivated by a real emotional need. Hopefully, a solution is found that does not punish those who really need their emotional support animal and flying can continue to be a part of their lives.

Join our Partner's Paws Comunity


Read More Articles

+ 17 more categories
CatsDogsEmotional Support AnimalsHealthUncategorized

Taking Care of Your Emotional Support Animal in Summer

June 26, 2024
Medical Assist Service Dog
DogsService Dogs

Medical Assist Service Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

April 4, 2024 5 min read
Dog - TrainingService DogsUncategorized

Hearing Alert Service Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

April 4, 2024
Dog - TrainingDogsService Dogs

Mobility Service Dogs: Your Partner in Independence

April 3, 2024 5 min read
Dog - FunDogsEmotional Support Animals

Celebrate International Bull Terrier Day

April 2, 2024 5 min read

National Puppy Day & Cuddly Kitten Day

March 23, 2024 3 min read
DogsEmotional Support AnimalsService Dogs

UK Dog Theft Awareness Day: Keeping Our Furry Friends Safe

March 14, 2024 5 min read
DogsEmotional Support AnimalsService DogsUncategorized

Celebrating National Akita Day: Honoring the Noble Guardian

March 8, 2024 3 min read
CatsDogsEmotional Support AnimalsService DogsUncategorized

Exploring Professional Pet Sitters Week

March 5, 2024 3 min read

Celebrating Compassion and Courage: International Rescue Cat Day

March 2, 2024 3 min read
CatsDogsEmotional Support AnimalsHealthUncategorized

Emotional Support Animals and Schizophrenia: The Healing Presence

February 29, 2024 5 min read

World Spay Day: A Comprehensive Guide to Pet Well-being and Responsible Ownership

February 27, 2024
Dog - TrainingService DogsUncategorized

Socializing Your Service Dog: Fostering Canine Companionship Success

February 26, 2024 3 min read

National Service Animal Registry (NSAR) Legit?: An Unbiased Exploration

February 24, 2024

Celebrating National Dog Biscuit Day: A Pawsome Tribute to Our Furry Companions

February 23, 2024

Embrace the Pawsome Adventure: Walking the Dog Day Celebration!

February 22, 2024

Skye’s the Limit on International Skye Terrier Day

February 21, 2024
CatsDogsEmotional Support AnimalsService DogsUncategorized

Love Your Pet Day: Celebrating All Companions

February 20, 2024 3 min read
DogsEmotional Support AnimalsService DogsUncategorized

Celebrating National Boston Terrier Day: A Heartwarming Tribute to Our Lovable Companions

February 19, 2024 3 min read
Emotional Support AnimalsMythBusters

Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month: A Comprehensive Guide to Adopting and Caring for Rabbits

February 15, 2024 5 min read
CatsDogsEmotional Support AnimalsService Dogs

Guarding Our Furry Friends: Unveiling Pet Theft Awareness Day’s Significance

February 14, 2024
CatsDogsEmotional Support AnimalsSenior DogsService Dogs

Responsible Pet Owners Month: A Celebration of Love and Commitment

February 12, 2024

Embracing the Purr-fect Joy: National Cat Month Unveiled

February 8, 2024 5 min read
BehaviorDog - TrainingDogsService Dogs

Unleashing the Best in Your Canine Companion: A Guide to Dog Training Education Awareness Month

February 6, 2024 5 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Pet Dental Care: Ensuring Happy Smiles for Dogs, Cats, and More!

February 5, 2024 3 min read
Dog - FunDogsHuman Connection

Planning the Perfect Doggie Date Night: A Tail-Wagging Guide for Dog Owners

February 3, 2024 3 min read
Dog - TrainingService Dogs

Unleashing Comfort: A Comprehensive Exploration of Service Dogs and Sensory Integration Therapy for Children with Sensory Processing Disorders

January 22, 2024 3 min read
CatsDogsEmotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals for Anxiety: All You Need to Know

January 16, 2024 3 min read
Service Dogs

How to Obtain A Service Dog: A Comprehensive Guide

January 4, 2024 3 min read
New Years 2024
Service Dogs

Celebrating the New Year Safely with Your Service Dog: A Guide to Minimizing Stress and Maximizing Joy

December 27, 2023
Emotional Support AnimalsService Dogs

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals in US Colleges: Enhancing Inclusivity and Support

August 18, 2023
ESA Letter
CatsDogsEmotional Support Animals

ESA Letter: Stop Paying Pet Fees

April 9, 2024
DogsService Dogs

Psychiatric Service Dogs: Unleashing Comfort

April 4, 2024
DogsService Dogs

Seizure Alert Service Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

April 4, 2024
DogsService DogsUncategorized

Guide Service Dogs: Navigating Life

April 4, 2024

Register Your Dog as
Service Dog or ESA

Don't miss out on the legal benefits of registering
your pet through NSAR service

Register Now