Air Canada ESA Policy: Fly to Canada with Your Comfort Animal!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Air Canada ESA PolicyDo you plan on traveling with your ESA via Air Canada? Then you will need to familiarize yourself with the Air Canada ESA policy. To learn more about how to safely travel with your emotional support animal, read on.

Disclaimer: CertaPet has qualified therapists in British Columbia,  Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario only at this time.

Air Canada ESA Policy? Do They Have One?

The Air Canada ESA policy dictates that those wishing to travel with an emotional support animal must provide a valid ESA letter. The Canadian Transportation Agency makes it possible for ESAs to travel with their owners.

Airborne Animals! Which Pets Can Fly In-Cabin with Air Canada?

The Air Canada ESA policy dictates that only dogs may fly in-cabin with their owners. Air Canada does not accept any other animals as emotional support animals.

Emotional Support Animals

Before you choose to fly with your ESA, you will need to be aware of how they are defined according to most airlines. An emotional support animal is any animal—dog or cat— that provides safety, comfort and emotional security to passengers suffering from mental illnesses. People diagnosed with conditions such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder can benefit greatly from having an ESA.

Service Animals

Unlike an emotional support animal, a service animal is a trained service dog that will assist their handler consistently. Examples of service dogs include guide dogs for the blind, or hearing aid dogs.

What Does it Cost to Travel with My ESA?

According to the Air Canada ESA policy, as long as passengers provide the necessary legal documents, they will be able to fly with their emotional support animal for free.

Canada air esa policy - cat in a pet carrier

Which Cat and Dog Breeds Can Travel In-Cabin?

Air Canada does not specify whether any particular dog breeds are prohibited from flying in-cabin. However, the airlines do restrict certain snub-nosed breeds from traveling in the cargo compartment.

Weight Restrictions and Size Restrictions for Carriers

If traveling with a pet in the cabin, carriers need to fit safely under the passenger’s seat. The size requirements for carriers are 11″ x 8″ x 16″ (28 cm x 21 cm x 41 cm). The carriers should be soft-sided and must be comfortable enough for the pet to turn around or lie in.

Number of Animals on a Flight?

Air Canada only allows a maximum of 4 pets per cabin. There is no restriction on how many emotional support animals may travel in-cabin.

Fido Too Big to Fly In-Cabin? Air Canada Cargo Hold

According to the Air Canada ESA policy certain cat and dog breeds are restricted from flying in the cargo compartment. The policy dictates that any brachycephalic breeds are prohibited from flying cargo due to the increased risk of respiratory complications.

Breed Restrictions

Brachycephalic or snub-nosed dog breeds restricted from flying in the cargo compartment include:

  • Boxer dogs
  • Affenpinscher
  • Shar-Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Pugs
  • Bulldogs

Some brachycephalic cat breeds include:

  • The British Shorthair
  • Himalayan
  • Scottish Fold
  • Exotic Shorthair

Air canada esa policy - puppy ready to travel in its pet carrier

Pets Travelling with Air Canada: Things you Need to Know

The Air Canada pet policy is significantly different from the Air Canada ESA policy. Firstly, passengers traveling with pets on domestic flights or a connecting flight should inform Air Canada as soon as possible. Air Canada only allow 2 to 4 pets in the cabin per flight.

Pets traveling in the cabin cannot exceed 22 lbs (10 kg) and your pet in its carrier would count as a piece of carry-on luggage. If you choose to check your pet in as checked baggage, then they cannot exceed 100 lbs (45kg).

Finally, pets cannot fly free of charge with Air Canada. There are certain fees owners need to pay to fly with their pet. The fees are as follows:

  • In-cabin pets on domestic flights: Fee of $50 to $59 one way
  • Pets in-cabin on international flights: Fee of $100 to $118 one way
  • Animals as checked baggage on domestic flights: Fee of $105 to $120.75
  • Pets in checked baggage on international flights: Fee of $270 to $318.60.

Documentation: 2 Forms You Will Need Before Checking In

The Air Canada ESA policy dictates that passengers looking to travel with their emotional support animal must show proof of support through an ESA letter. It is also advisable to always carry a vaccination certificate for your dog.

ESA Letter

An emotional support animal letter is a legal document that describes your need for an ESA. An ESA letter is a prescription written by a qualified mental health professional. Without an emotional support animal letter, passengers cannot bring their ESA’s on board an aircraft.

  • An ESA letter must be on the letterhead of a qualified mental health professional. This can be a psychologist, psychiatrist, or general practitioner.
  • The date of your ESA letter must be within one year of your date of departure.

Veterinary Health Certificate

The Air Canada ESA policy makes no mention of having a veterinary health certificate as part of their mandatory documents. However, it is considered a safety blanket should you ever need proof that your dog is up to date with their vaccinations.

Canadian holiday with your emotional support dog - woman with her golden retriever paddling on a lake in Canada

3 Things to Think About Before Taking on a Journey with your ESA

  1. According to the Air Canada ESA policy, passengers traveling with an emotional support animal need to give a 48-hour notice to Air Canada Reservations.
  2. The Air Canada ESA policy states that only dogs are accepted as emotional support animals on board their flights. Passengers cannot bring cats, birds, or miniature horses as ESAs.
  3. Emotional support animals do not have to be trained to be service animals. That being said, it is advisable to train your emotional support dog to be on their best behavior. The Air Canada ESA policy dictates that they have the right to not allow an aggressive or troublesome ESA on-board their flight.

We are invoking the Human Rights Code when we issue these letters. The Human Rights Code provides the broadest protections to service animal users, as it extends the right to be free from discrimination, harassment, and reprisal in all of the social areas covered by the Code, including services, goods and facilities, accommodation, contracts, employment, and vocational associations. We are also fully aware and understand that an ESA does not have to be honored and can be denied. We make sure to let our clients know this. There is no legal obligation for the other party to approve an ESA request, but they may be motivated to do so on compassionate grounds. Animals that have little training, are poorly behaved or have damaged property will be rejected.

Common Questions on Air Canada ESA Policy

Does Air Canada allow emotional support dogs?

Can airlines charge for emotional support animals?

What do I need to travel with my emotional support animal?

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.