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.

Can I Take Emotional Support Animals On United Airlines? 

In December 2020, the Department of Transportation issued a policy telling airlines to ban emotional support animals from their flights. Therefore, United Airlines no longer allows ESAs on their flights since March 2021. Instead, you can take service 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.

Does United Airlines Allow Service Animals? 

United Airlines allows all passengers to carry service animals provided that you have gotten a certification from the Department of Transportation. The key thing to note is that service animals are different from ESAs because they assist people with disabilities.

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.

Are Service Animals Increasing On United Airlines? 

Service animals on United Airlines are increasing because emotional support animals are not allowed on its airplanes. The company banned the latter pets after a statement issued by the Department of Transportation. So more passengers are flying with service animals.

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.

Why Are Emotional Support Animals Not Allowed On United? 

The top reason ESAs are prohibited is that they are considered different than service pets. Typically, the latter is an animal trained to help people with disabilities. The airline has also banned ESAs to reduce the number of misbehavior incidents.

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.

What Is The In-Cabin Animal Policy Of United Airlines? 

You must ensure that the animal is in a hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. Besides that, this item should be approved by the airline. For instance, the kennel must fit under your seat entirely and remain there for the flight duration.

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.

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.

What Are The PetSafe Guidelines Of United Airlines? 

United Airlines uses its PetSafe program to transport your animals that cannot stay in the cabin. A key rule you must follow is that the pet should be a cat or dog. It should also be 12 weeks old or below.

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.

Can An ESA Act As A Service Dog? 

An ESA can act as a service animal if you have trained it properly. However, you will still have to get the certification from the Department of Transportation. If they approve your animal, you can fly with it on United.

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.

How To Take A Service Animal On United Airlines? 

You must fill out the animal service certification form on the Department of Transportation’s website. After you receive the approval, you must notify the airline. Typically, United requires you to submit the relief form at least eight hours before departure.

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.

Does United Airlines Allow Emotional Support Animals In 2022?

United Airlines does not allow emotional support animals to travel with you in 2022. They have banned such pets from their flights since March 2021 because of misbehavior and other reasons. Currently, you can fly with service animals only on United Airlines.

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.

James Newman

James Newman is an air travel fanatic. From the fear of flying, TSA regulations, and saving money on flights & airlines, James has extensive knowledge when it comes to air travel. He hopes to make your air travel experience a better one with his blog flyingcomfortably.com.

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