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New Airline Rules for Service Animals

flying airlines with pet

UPDATED March 12. 2019

American Airlines has established new rules related to flying with service animals or emotional support animals (ESA’s). Beginning on April 1, 2019, ESA’s will be limited to a dog or cat only. For service animals, dogs, cats and miniature horses will only be accepted. The traveler wishing to travel with an ESA in the cabin on American will be required to fill out three forms and submit them to the airline no later than 48 hours prior to travel. Those forms can be found here. One form is signed by a licensed veterinarian indicating the pet is properly vaccinated against rabies, and includes other information such as date of birth, breed, weight, etc. The second form is to be signed by a medical or mental health professional. The third is filled out by the traveler which states the pet is well-behaved and will not disrupt the flight.

Further, both ESA’s and service animals will be a minimum of 4 months of age.

Flying the friendly skies with your pet

Delta Airlines, American and United Airlines just announced that they will be changing their requirements for some animals traveling inside the aircraft. If you travel with your dog or cat- and are accustomed to paying for them to make the trip, it doesn’t look like much has changed. What has changed- quite a bit- is if you’re traveling with an trained service animal, or an emotional support animal (ESA).

According to multiple sources, lots of folks are flying with ESA’s, and not all of the pets are flying nice. There have been numerous incidents on planes over the past few years, whether it be pets relieving themselves inappropriately, biting fellow passengers or simply not behaving. I know that there is indeed a segment of our population who truly have a need to have their companion with them when they fly, but sadly, there are lots of folks out there who are likely looking to save themselves the cost of getting their pooch on the plane without paying- or avoiding their pet flying in the cargo hold due to the risk, or perceived risk.

Trained Service Animals

Trained service animals are not exempt from Delta’s new rules. Legitimate trained service animals assist those with disabilities in a variety of ways and go through hundreds if not thousands of hours of training at specialized facilities, like Southeastern Guide Dogs in Bradenton.

If you’re traveling with a Trained Service Animal, you will need to download, fill out and return this form no later than 48 hours prior to traveling on Delta.


At this time, it does not appear that United nor American has a required form for Trained Service Animals.

Emotional Support Animals

Delta, American and United Airlines have separate forms for ESA’s which needs to be filled out and submitted no later than 48 hours prior to travel.




Here’s a few other things to know if you’re thinking about flying Delta with your pet, or ESA

Your dog and cat are welcome, but here are the pets they say can’t go inside the cabin per Delta:

  • Ferrets
  • Hedgehogs
  • Insects
  • Rodents
  • Snakes- of any kind
  • Spiders
  • Sugar gliders
  • Reptiles- yes, this means no snakesnew rules for service dogs at airport
  • Amphibians
  • Goats
  • Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game bird, & birds of prey)
  • Animals improperly cleaned and/or with a foul odor
  • Animals with tusks, horns or hooves

As of 4/1/19, The only emotional support animals allowed on American flights are dogs and cats. For Service animals, dogs, cats and in certain circumstances- a miniature horse.

United has not published a list of prohibited pets, but says that dogs, cats, rabbits and household birds (excluding Cockatoos) are welcome in the cabin.

For a complete list of Delta’s rules for traveling with your pet(s), all of their information can be found on their website here. United Airline’s rules are on their page here. Other airlines have their own rules, so check with your carrier if you’re flying a different airline. But since Delta and United have made this move, expect others to follow suit pretty quickly. I’ll do my best to keep you updated when things change.

Remember, if you’re traveling internationally, each country may have different rules for the entry of your pet, and your pet may not be welcome without the proper paperwork. The airlines cannot handle this for you. We may be able to assist you with documentation related to your pet’s health and vaccination status or health certificates, depending on where you’re going. Check out my other blogs about traveling safely with your pet which cover lots of other topics to ensure a smooth trip with your furry or feathered friends.

Wishing you and your pets happy travels!