Flying with Your Emotional Support Animals

Written by Irfarina Ahmad Nazli


A recent article by Nuri Vittachi in the Sun’s newspaper caught my interest. He mentioned the existence of a law in the United States allowing flight passengers to have their Emotional Support Animals (ESA) next to them!

This means, you can bring along literally any animal registered for your emotional well-being. Luckily for the owners, the airlines is not allowed to charge ESAs for using its services. Furthermore, you don’t need to be physically disadvantaged such as being visually impaired to qualify, nor need trained animals to meet the law’s criteria, but simply be “emotionally fragile”.  According to The Official ESA website, the individual has to provide evidence of experiencing mental health disability and proof that he/she is under a health professional’s supervision.

No blanket restrictions are known in regard to the kinds of animals that could fly with you, and some airlines websites have basically listed a range of species, from cats to dogs to pigs and fish based on the federal regulations. It is up to the airline company to decide on the kinds of animals allowed on board.

An interesting addition to this law is a case Vittachi cited, whereby a woman was on the same flight with 4 dogs said to be ESA for another passenger. The lady unfortunately, was allergic to dogs and had to be escorted out although she paid for her ticket.

With this being said, America can be quite a wonder at times. As it pushes for human rights, incredulous laws have been introduced and implemented to satisfy the needs of every single human. This leaves much for question as from the case mentioned, the rights of the lady were violated in the expense of another individual whom wanted to practice his rights for ESA. Also, who in the end, the flight attendant or the owner cleans up the mess if the animals ever need to perform the call of nature is another question to ponder. There could never be a win-win situation here for both the airlines and its clients in such cases. Perhaps the policymakers need to relook into the idea to minimize the inconveniences to other people and find other means to help those who are really in need.

Photo credit: Google



The Sun newspaper (December 13, 2017)

The Official ESA Registration of America (

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