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Can you take your ESA snake on a flight?

Jason Miles

Flying with your emotional support animals is an easy process. However, there is a set of rules and regulations on flying with your ESA snake.

Emotional support snakes are amazing pets for reptile lovers and they are really helpful companions who help ease emotional distress. People can easily live with their ESA snake as long as they have an realesaletter for housing. However, flying with your pet is a different scenario.

People suffering from psychological and mental health conditions are advised to get an ESA that can provide support during the flight. They can help people with social anxiety to fly with comfort.

Regulations of the ACAA

The air travel of ESAs and service animals on planes is regulated by the Air Carrier Access Act.

A variety of airlines allow emotional support animals for flights within the US and internationally. Traveling with an ESA dog or an ESA cat is the easiest and most accepted by most flights. However, traveling with exotic or unusual animals is not that easy.

Some animals that might be excluded from flying according to the ACAA include pets that are too large or heavy to be kept in the cabin, can endanger the safety and health of professionals, disrupt the services in the cabin, or those prohibited from going to another country.

According to ACAA, the airlines do not allow snakes, spiders, rodents, and other reptiles.

Requirements of flying with an ESA

Some airlines may allow you to travel with an ESA snake on a domestic or local flight within the US; however, certain requirements must be met.

You have to get approval from the airlines in 48 hrs. before traveling. Check the rules of the airlines from their website or customer support to ensure that they can allow you to travel.

Although ESAs are covered by the law and you are entitled to medical assistance from your pet, many people may pass off their pets as ESAs as a way to get away with pet fees. So, the airlines have narrowed down the regulations and increased requirements for flying with your ESA.

The general ESA flying requirements include

Your pet should be clean and properly trained. It should be obedient and follow your commands so that it stays in control.

The owner should be with the ESA at all times during boarding, at the airport, and during the flight.

The ESA should not be allowed to eat from the food tray no matter how clean it is.

It should fit under your seat, or next to your legs and it should not ever sit on the passenger seat. The ESA may also sit in the lap of the passenger as long as it is smaller than a 2-year-old kid.

The ESA should not protrude into the aisle or walk out into the aisle. It should not bark at, bite or attempt to bite other passengers as it will be considered intolerable.

In case of violation of the ESA flying requirements, the airlines would consider the ESA to be equivalent to a pet due to its behavior and the same fee structure would apply to it.

The ESA should be on a leash at all times or it should be enclosed in an animal carrier so that it does not roam freely and endanger other passengers.

The ESA should not relieve itself on the airplane or should be made to do so in a way that does not cause a sanitary concern for the airlines or other passengers.

The airlines require you to submit all the documentation in 48 hrs. before flying. They require an real esa letter that indicates the doctor’s recommendation, and a special permission form by the airlines that includes personal information on the pet and the passenger, so the airlines can be sure that the person would not cause any problem while flying.

The pet should not be a source of nuisance for other passengers.

Many airlines may allow you to fly with an exotic ESA if you pay the regular fee of a pet. Most airlines allow you to fly with a dog in the US and on foreign flights, but for exotic pets, the regulations are different.

Documentation required for traveling with your emotional support animal.

Although traveling with an ESA snake may be allowed in specific circumstances, the regulations are generally restrictive.

The regulations on traveling with emotional support animals have become strict after the COVID outbreak. Now the airlines are not allowing people to travel with their ESA to discourage traveling during the pandemic.

The regulations on traveling have also become strict on service animals. Moreover, recently the airlines are making stern rules for checking that the pets are needed for medical assistance or psychological support. In order to ensure the legitimacy of an emotional support animal, airlines may require additional documents from the clients, including an emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health professional. These documents help to confirm that the animal is necessary for the individual's emotional well-being and provide assurance to the airlines that the animal is not simply a pet. The additional documents required include:

An ESA letter should be issued by a licensed health professional. The professional can be a mental health counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist.

The therapist must write the letter on their letterhead, and sign it.

It should mention the license type, license date, and the state where the license of the therapist was issued.

The date of issuing the letter should be mentioned and an updated letter must be used by the passengers.

The letter should mention the mental health diagnosis according to the DSM V criteria and it should suggest that getting an ESA would be helpful for the person. 

Jason Miles
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