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2023 Updates

How the New DOT Regulations Will Impact ESAs in 2023

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After years of reported incidents of untrained and misbehaved Emotional Support Animals in airlines, The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) set new rules on traveling with animals. The new law was also a means to cut down on fraudulent ESA letters.

Airlines have been applying pressure on the DOT to amend the Air Carrier Access Act due to
the increasing number of ESAs on their flights. After serious reported incidents of animals in traveling, these airlines succeeded.

Why was this new regulation created

The DOT came to action when news of a delta passenger needing 28 stitches after an emotional support dog lunged and mauled his face spread across the US. Moreover, after this violent incident, An American Airlines flight attendant had to get five stitches after an ESA bit him.

These alleged attacks are two of numerous reports in the past few years of animals causing trouble for airline passengers. Incidents have pushed DOT and airlines to rethink which animals they need to allow on planes. DOT issued a final rule to amend the Department’s Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on transporting service animals by air. This final rule ensures that the air transportation system is safe for the traveling public.

What does the Department of Transportation do?

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is a department that focuses entirely on ensuring the safe, efficient, sustainable, and equitable movement of people and goods within the U.S. It sets rules and regulations for traveling and transportation. There are several administrations under the DOT, including the Federal Aviation Administration.


In January 2021, the Department of Transportation announced it had finalized rules that will allow airlines to treat emotional support animals as ordinary pets. With revised rules around flying with emotional support animals, it no longer considers ESAs service animals. Passengers who own service dogs can still take flights without paying a pet fee. It creates the difference between service animals and ESA.

Emotional support animals are animals that alleviate the symptoms of mental illness. A person experiencing mental illness such as depression, stress, or anxiety can make their pet an ESA with the help of an ESA Letter from a licensed healthcare professional. ESA Letter is a Letter that states that a person is experiencing mental illness, and this animal may alleviate the symptoms.

Service animals are governed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are allowed by law in commercial airplane cabins for no fee. Service animals are trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, psychiatric, or other mental disability. ESAs are no longer considered service animals by the DOT. Airlines no longer have to accept them on board their aircraft. Moreover, many airlines are now banning ESAs entirely from their cabins.

The new DOT regulations 2022 sets some new rules on service animals too. Now service animal owners submit to the airline a form developed by DOT, attesting to the animal’s training and good behavior and certifying the animal’s good health. In addition, service animal users must provide these forms up to 48 hours before travel.

What Does This Mean For Owners Of Emotional Support Animals?

The newly published DOT regulations for emotional support animals will impact those who use an ESA as part of their treatment plan in dealing with a mental disability. The DOT clarifies that psychiatric service animals must be treated by airlines the same as other service animals.

Airlines do not have to recognize the ESA as a service animal unless the ESA can perform psychiatric work. It means ESA is not guaranteed a spot in the cabin even with an ESA letter from a licensed doctor. As a result, owners will have to pay a pet fee and follow the airline’s pet policy, which includes size, breed, and weight restrictions.

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Flying With An Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals that no longer qualify as psychiatric service animals may travel as carry-on or cargo pets, as long as they meet size and weight requirements. Now the ESA is considered a normal pet. The rules and regulations that apply to pets apply to ESA.

Different airlines have different rules about the flight with ESA. Depending on the airline, your pet may be able to travel with you inside your cabin. Or airlines may put them inside the cargo. Confirm the process of flying with your pet ahead of time with your airline.

Generally, only small dogs and cats that can fit in special carriers under the seat are allowed in the cabin. Large dog transported as cargo. Cargo fees are based on the weight of the dog and crate. The owner is the sole responsible for their pet during any layovers. Owners will have to pay pet fees, ranging from $99 to $200.

After the new ESA regulations on airplanes came to life, almost every airline restricted ESA, but few airlines did not. You need to check with the airlines before booking the tickets. You may contact the My ESA Therapist. We are a leading ESA Letter provider in the US, serving thousands of clients across the US.

The bottom line

ESA regulations on airlines undoubtedly focus on the safety of passengers and crew members. There have been incidents that have discredited emotional support animals, but better rules and regulations could prevent that incident. The motive behind these rules may be great, but it’s a little unfair with people having legitimate ESA letters. We know An ESA can genuinely make all the difference in the life of someone who has experienced mental illness. For an honest ESA Letter, contact My ESA Therapist, and don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. No Appointment is Needed!

Why Choose The My ESA Therapist?

ESA Letter is not a cure to any mental disability, it is just a legal document signed by a therapist that certifies your disability and gives your pet the status of “emotional support animal” so that you get the freedom to take your pets to restricted places.

At My ESA Therapist, we aim to provide a better life to you through the companionship and love that you attain by the presence of your pet. We are here to assist you in proclaiming your privileges as a pet owner and deal with uncooperative tenant restrictions and outrageous pet deposits.


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