Does United Airlines Allow Emotional Support Animals?

In December 2020, the Department of Transportation told airlines that they can no longer accommodate emotional support animals (ESAs) on flights.

Several airlines, including Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, have already announced that they will no longer accommodate ESAs.

Most airlines are now banning emotional support animals from flying. This will limit their use in the cabin.

For reservations made before January 11, 2021, United will still allow the transportation of emotional support animals. However, starting February 28, 2021, the fees for the use of an ESA will be applicable.

United Bans Emotional Support Animals

United Airlines will still allow emotional support animals to travel with reservations made before January 11, 2021.

However, starting March 1, 2021, United will no longer transport emotional support animals on flights. For travel starting March 1, 2021, the airlines will only accept requests for travel with an ESA.

United Airlines Will Continue to Accept Service Animals

A service animal is a dog that has been trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability, such as sensory deprivation or intellectual disability.

A service animal can only travel on the floor space of the passenger’s assigned seat.

On February 1, 2021, United will need to complete the necessary documents for a service animal’s certification.

Why There Will be a Lot of New “Service Dogs”

Although airlines will no longer accept emotional support animals, some people still travel with dogs that are over 20 pounds. This is because the pets usually cost less than the fees for boarding a plane.

In addition, the Department of Transportation has defined psychiatric service animals as those that are trained to provide assistance and support services to people with a disability.

These animals are also considered the same as service animals that are trained to perform specific tasks. They can only be trained by their owner.

It’s believed that most emotional support animals are trained to perform various tasks and functions. The Department of Transportation noted that untrained individuals can still train their own animals to perform the same tasks.

Before boarding a plane, passengers will no longer need to provide a letter from a mental health professional or another licensed professional to show the need for their psychiatric service animal.

Instead, passengers will need to provide a letter from a mental health professional or another licensed professional to travel with their ESA.

This new guideline will most likely discourage people from boarding planes with their pets.

I’m not making a judgment call here, but I think that people who are planning on taking their pets on a plane should be disappointed.

Although the rules will only allow dogs in cabins, I would still expect that there will be plenty of animals travelling with their owners.

Related: Can You Bring a Vape on a Plane?

Emotional Support Animal Restrictions

The Department decided to exclude emotional support animals for various reasons.

Emotional Support Animals are not Service Animals

The Department of Transportation’s new guideline narrows the distinction between a service animal and an emotional support animal.

The new guideline will help airlines and passengers avoid confusion regarding the type of animal that’s allowed to travel with them.

Emotional Support Animals are not trained

Although task-trained animals are more likely to behave in public, emotional support animals might not have received the proper training.

The Department also noted that emotional support animals are more likely to behave in public than task-trained animals.

Prevent misbehavior incidents

The Department of Transportation noted that its policy will help minimize the number of uncrated animals on aeroplanes.

United Airlines’ In-Cabin Pet Policy

Aside from dogs, United also allows cats, rabbits, and household birds to be carried in the cabin with their passengers.

The in-cabin pets of United customers will be charged $125 each way and an additional $125 for each stopover within the US.

Pets will not be allowed to use oxygen. A breathable kennel is also important to ensure that the animal stays comfortable in the cabin. The maximum width for hard-sided kennels is 17 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7 inches high.

In-cabin pets must travel with their handlers on the same flight. For an additional pet, the ticket must be purchased separately.

United Airlines Pet Safe

Before booking a flight with United, check the company’s PetSafe guidelines.

Although United uses climate-controlled vans to transport pets, these animals will not be allowed to enter areas with temperatures of more than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

The minimum connection time for pets travelling with United is one-hour.

All animals travelling with United must be under 12 weeks old. They can also be wormed, vaccinated, and subjected to other medical procedures.

Before boarding a plane, give a young puppy a light Karo syrup to maintain its glucose level for 24 hours.

Your pet’s photo should be clearly shown to confirm that it has the proper breed to verify its crate compliance with Petsafe’s requirements.

Related: What is United Airlines Boarding Policies?

Can Your ESAs be a Psychiatric Service Dog?

Although both psychiatric service dogs and emotional support animals can help individuals with psychological issues, what’s the bar for these animals?

The Department of Transportation’s final rule recognizes psychiatric service animals as working animals that are trained to do specific tasks for individuals with a disability.

To be considered a psychiatric service animal, a passenger must provide a DOT form that shows the animal’s health, behaviour, and training.

Required Department of Transportation forms for service animals

Beginning February 1, 2021, United will require all service animals travelling with a customer to obtain a DOT form.

To be considered a psychiatric service animal, a passenger must provide a DOT form that shows the animal’s health, behaviour, and training.

The forms are available on the Department of Transportation’s website. United will also require a service animal relief form for flights that take over eight hours.

Due to the new regulations, airlines no longer require psychiatric service animals users to submit a letter from a licensed psychiatric health professional.

Before travelling, United suggests that passengers contact the company’s assistance desk at 1-800-227-8247 to discuss their travel dates.

If you’re planning on training a psychiatric service dog, then consider taking advantage of our online course. It’s a great way to learn and follow along with a certified trainer.

Final word

Overall, United Premier Access provides a variety of benefits that will make your travel experience easier and less time-consuming. However, these benefits are only as good as the airport that you frequent.

United Airlines will no longer allow emotional support animals to travel on its flights starting in 2021.

Although it will no longer be allowed on flights, psychiatric service animals such as dogs will still be allowed.