Everything You Need to Know About the Air North ESA Policy

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air north esa policy plane above clouds

You’re going to Yukon! Fido is coming with! Which airline to book? Who will allow your precious emotional support animal (ESA) to fly with you? Air North is one of Canada’s ESA and pet-friendly airlines! Depending on the size of your emotional support animal, they may travel with you onboard, or as checked baggage. Read on for more details of the Air North ESA policy.

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

Air North is Happy to Accommodate Your ESA!

The Air North ESA policy welcomes ESA travelers. On top of that, they even have dedicated staff on hand to see to the safety and comfort of your traveling ESA. Luckily our four-legged friend can travel in-cabin with you if they can fit into a carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you. If Fido is too large to travel as hand luggage, they can fly in the cargo hold.

The Difference Between Pets, Service and Emotional Support Animals

To best understand which pets or animals can travel where and when according to the Air North ESA policy, let’s look at the definitions of the different types of companion animals.

  • Firstly, a pet is defined as a tamed or domesticated animal owned for pleasure or companionship.
  • Secondly, emotional support animals (ESAs) help to lessen the symptoms of emotional and/or mental disabilities. Simply by being a companion giving unconditional love, they can assist individuals in overcoming challenging situations. Typically, ESAs are dogs and cats. They can even be bunnies (but miniature horses aren’t going to be allowed on the flight with you)!
  • Lastly, service animals are usually dogs. They undergo rigorous training to be able to perform tasks to assist their disabled humans. For example, a guide dog that safely leads its blind owner through busy streets.

The Legal Protection of ESAs in Canada

In the U.S, laws about ESAs have been in place for some time. They are clear and concrete. In Canada, laws about ESAs have many gray areas. There are laws regarding the travel of service animals. These can extend to the rights of individuals traveling with their ESAs.

There are some basic federal laws that apply across the board. However, for the most part, the rules and regulations regarding ESAs in Canada often differ from province to province. Therefore, it is best to read up on the ESA laws of a particular province before deciding to travel there with your furry friend.

woman hugging her emotional support animal

The Canadian Transportation Agency

According to the Canadian Transport Act (CTA), “persons with disabilities have a right to an equal opportunity to benefit from the same level of transportation services afforded to others…” This means that disabled people have the right to equal access.

Aircraft Accessibility Act for Persons with Disabilities

Additional to the CTA, the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR) is currently in the drafting phase. The main goal for this legislation is to create standards for transportation service providers to abide by. These standards are to make travel more accessible to persons with disabilities. For example, making tactile row markers for the visually impaired.

On those traveling with service dogs, the planned regulations will include a new definition of “service dogs”. This will state that service dogs provide support for persons with a range of disabilities. The reviewed regulations will also make allowance for the creation of ‘relieving areas’ for pets.

Animals and Breeds Allowed on Air North Flights

The Air North ESA policy makes allowance for cats, dogs, bunnies, and birds! There are no restrictions on dog breeds and cat breeds. However, pets younger than 8 weeks may not fly. Traveling by air at such a young age may be detrimental to their health. Also, females with un-weaned young may not travel by air.

Kennel and Carrier Size and Weight Restrictions

In consideration for the comfort and safety of fellow passengers, you cannot buy a seat for your four-legged friend. If your emotional support dog or cat is to travel in-cabin with you, they must remain inside their pet carrier for the duration of the flight.

If your ESA is flying in-cabin with you, the following restrictions apply to their carrier:

  • Traveling on a Boeing 737: 18″ long x 15″ wide x 9″ high
  • Flying in a HS748 or ATR-42 – 15″ long x 11″ wide x 9″ high

For ESAs taking to the skies in the air cargo hold, the largest kennel size allowed is 40.5″ long, 29.5″ wide, and 30.5″ high.

man playing with his emotional support dog in field

Make Sure Your Carrier or Kennel is Airline Approved!

To make sure that your doggo’s kennel is suitable for air transport, tick the following boxes:

  • Mark the top of the kennel with the words “live animal”.
  • The kennel must be well ventilated, leak-proof, and escape-proof.
  • It must be spacious enough for your pooch to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
  • The door of the travel crate must comprise welded or cast metal. It should secure well without a lock. Closure with zip ties is recommended. These can be easily removed by an agent should an emergency arise.

4 Important Documents You’ll Need to Get Fido on a Plane

  1. When traveling with your emotional support animal, it is always a good idea to have your ESA letter with you.
  2. Pet owners checking their ESA in as checked baggage, you will need to complete a pet declaration form at the airport at the time of checking in.

Over and above that, you do not need any special documentation when traveling within the country. However, if you are journeying into the US, you will also need the following:

  1. Health certificate for your companion animal.
  2. The value of the shipment (i.e. your ESA).

How CertaPet Helps People Get Their ESA Letter

If you are looking to get an emotional support animal in Canada, you will need to get a letter from a qualified mental health professional (QMHP). A QMHP is a psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical social worker, or medical doctor. Your ESA letter is a prescription stating that the companionship of an emotional support animal forms a vital part of your treatment protocol.

CertaPet facilitates the connection of individuals suffering from mental or emotional health issues with a qualified mental health practitioner. Currently, CertaPet has qualified therapists in Newfoundland and Labrador, and British Columbia.

The Air North ESA Policy Checklist

There is limited space and allowance for the number of pets on each flight. To avoid disappointment, be sure to call the reservations desk as soon as you make your booking: (867) 668.2228 ext 1 or toll-free in North America 1.800.661.0407 ext 1.

Make sure that your ESA’s kennel or pet carrier complies with the guidelines set out by North Air.

Check that you have all the necessary paperwork with you before checking in.

cute puppy with goggles skydiving

Where to Call or Visit for More Information on the Air North ESA Policy

If you are unsure about something or have a question not covered by the information on the Air North travel info page, call (867) 668.2228 ext 1 or toll-free in North America 1.800.661.0407 ext 1.

Taking a Different Airline? Check Out More ESA Policies Here

As we mentioned before, the ESA policies are different in each province. Make sure to read up on emotional support dogs and cats in your final destination. ESA laws in Newfoundland and Labrador differ from those in Vancouver.

Not traveling on Air North? For comprehensive guidelines on the airline ESA and pet policies of other airlines that you might be considering, check out Air Canada ESA policy or the article about Air Transat’s ESA policy.

Currently, we are only servicing British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario. 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 About Air North ESA Policy

Can I buy a seat ticket for my pet?

Which types of ESAs can travel onboard Air North flights?

What are the size restrictions for pet carriers?

Can you ship your pet as checked baggage?

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