Alaska Airlines ESA Policy

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By: CertaPet Staff Updated: September 16, 2021

Alaska Airlines ESA Policy

The Alaska Airlines ESA Policy has a new update for people wanting to travel with their Emotional Support Animal.

**Please note a statement by Alaska Airlines…”Alaska Airlines has adopted a new policy on the transport of service animals, following substantial changes to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rules on the topic. Effective January 11, 2021, Alaska will accept only service dogs which are trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability. Emotional support animals will no longer be accepted.”

Alaska Airlines ESA Policy: Pet Fee

Alaska Airlines ESA policy has tightened the airline’s pet policy on allowing Emotional Support Animals. While the Alaska Airlines ESA policy is a lot more strict, it’s important to note that their fee for pets and emotional support animals is fairly cheap, with a charge of $100 per pet per trip.

A List of ESAs That are Permitted on Alaska Airlines

Dog, cat, bunnies and bird together, permitted ESAs according to Alaska Airlines ESA policy

According to the Alaska Airlines pet policy, Alaska Airlines allows the following animals in the aircraft cabin:

  • Cats
  • Dogs

Breed Restrictions

Alaska Airlines will only permit one dog or cat as an emotional support animal allowed to travel in the aircraft cabin with its disabled owner. The dog or cat must be leashed or kept in a carrier at all times.  

Alaska Airlines ESA policy— like many airlines—now dictates that they will no longer allow Brachycephalic breeds (a.k.a short-nosed dog breeds or snub-nosed dog breeds) on any of their flights.

These breeds include:

Cats:

  • Persian
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Himalayan
  • Burmese

Dogs:

  • Boston Terriers
  • Boxers
  • Bull Dogs
  • Bull Terriers
  • Brussels Griffons
  • Chow Chows
  •  English Toy Spaniels
  • Japanese Spaniels
  • Japanese Chins
  • Mastiffs
  • Pekinese
  • Pit Bulls
  • Pugs
  • Shih Tzu,
  • Staffordshire Terriers

ACAA and ESAs: What You Need to Know

When it comes to traveling by air with a disability, ACAA is perhaps the most important law you need to be aware of. Known as the Air Carriers Access Act, the ACAA was passed in 1990 and works alongside the Department of Transportation rules prohibiting discrimination against disabled individuals traveling by air.

However, please note the change above. Published in the Federal Register by the Department of Transportation (DOT), airlines are not required under law to accept emotional support animals. It is up to the airline on how they want to recognize ESAs. For Alaska Airlines, they will now be requiring emotional support animals to follow the same policy as pets do.

This new travel regulation puts many ESA owners in a bind. While the change was to attack the misrepresentation issue of ill-behaved pets passing off as emotional support animals head on, the law has punished those who truly need an ESA to fly.

Prairie Conlon, LPC, NCC, and CertaPet‘s Clinical Director, calls this “textbook discrimination”.

Despite this drastic change, we continue to explore and consider all legal options to help protect the rights of individuals dealing with mental health disabilities.

You and your furry support system matter; don’t lose hope.

How to Alert Alaska Airlines You Will Be Bringing Your ESA/Pet/SA

According to Alaska Airlines ESA policy, the number of animals traveling on any Alaska Airline flight is limited. Even if your animal is an Emotional Support Animal. It’s first come first serve.

Before 2021,according to the Alaska Airlines ESA policy, you were required to submit a completed, 3-page form to them via email at least 48 hrs before the flight.

These forms included:

  • Animal Health Advisory Form – They recommend that you always have a certified copy of your ESA’s Health Certificate from your vet on you at all times.
  • Mental Health Form – This part needs to be completed by a certified mental health professional.
  • Animal Behavior Form – They need to be sure that your animal is trained and well behaved.

However, now that Alaska Airlines recognizes emotional support animals as pets, they do not need to bring the above forms.

Take the pre-screening today if you think you qualify for an emotional support animal.

Know Alaska Airlines’ Pet Carrier Requirements!

Alaska Airlines ESA policy makes traveling with your pet stress-free!

What’s Acceptable

Alaska Airlines ESA policy does have a set of rules when it comes to meeting the cabin pet carrier needs:

  • Have sufficient ventilation
  • Be leak proof
  • Have an absorbent lining
  • Maximum size hard carrier dimensions: 17” x 11” x 7.5”
  • Maximum size soft carrier dimensions:  17” x 11” x 9.5”

What’s Restricted

According to Alaska Airlines ESA policy, you cannot bring a pet carrier, a personal item and a carry-on bag onto the flight. You will need to choose 2, and the rest will have to be added to your checked-baggage.

“Where Does My ESA Go Once I’m on the Plane?”

Alaska Airlines ESA policy must follow the pet policy and animals must stay in their pet carrier throughout the flight.

They won’t get loaded with checked baggage, or into the cargo compartment/cargo hold. Other people will have to wait until they get to the baggage claim area before seeing their pets.

Bring and Fill Out the Required Documents/Forms

ESA Letter: Optional

Before 2021, your emotional support animal letter was required by Alaska Airlines ESA policy; however, you do not need it to fly going forward.

But having yours on hand never hurts!

This document is less than a year old and on letterhead paper or a prescription pad from a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional. The ESA letter must state the following:

  • That you have a diagnosed mental health condition or mental health-related disability
  • The emotional support animal accompanying you is necessary for your mental health or treatment
  • The type of animal you are bringing, and how many
  • That the issuer of the letter is a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional, and that you are under their treatment or care for a mental health disorder
  • The issuer’s license number, type of license, the license’s issue date, and the state or jurisdiction where it was licensed.

Veterinary Health Certificate: Cargo Only

Also known as the USDA APHIS 7001 Form, a USDA-approved veterinarian must complete this form within 10 days of travel. It proves the animal’s clean bill of health and rabies vaccination record.

Copy of the Animal’s Current Shot Record: Depends on Destination

Your veterinarian should be able to provide this if you don’t have it at home.

Signed Testament to the Animal’s Behavior: Depends on Destination

The airline needs to be sure that your pet doesn’t pose a potential threat to other passengers or airport staff. This signed testament by your vet will show that your dog is, in fact, a very good boy!

While you may not need any documentation above, Alaska Airlines reminds travelers that “many states have specific importation health and vaccination requirements. Contact the state veterinarian at your destination prior to travel to determine necessary documentation (such as health and cold-weather acclimation certificates) and vaccination requirements.”

Prepare Your ESA for Flight!

Air travel with your pet is not as easy as simply putting them into their carrier and expecting smooth sailing and good behavior. Especially if they are not used to traveling. Make sure your ESA ready for the trip!

Teach Your Dog the Proper Behavior When in Public and on the Airplane

Alaska Airlines Pets Policy has very strict rules about the behavior of ESAs or Psychiatric Service Animals. If your animal does not behave, you may find yourself in a spot of legal bother.

Here is a list of behavior that is unacceptable:

  • Excessive Barking
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Free wandering
  • Going potty where they’re not supposed to
  • Jumping up on people
  • Taking up another seat or sitting on the seatback tray tables
  • Eating off seatback tray tables
  • Not responding to your commands

It is not the flight attendant’s job to clean up after dogs and cats, or any other animal. Make sure you get your animal to a pet relief or grassy area to go potty, especially before international flights!

They’re There for Your Comfort, Not Disturbance

A lot of meeters and greeters will love that you have an animal with you. But some people really won’t. Make sure you ESA is not distracting anyone because the only reason you are flying with your emotional support animal is so you can feel safe. When your ESA begins distracting people or causing a disturbance, they are no longer calming you down but in fact, doing the opposite.

Read ESA Owners’ First-Hand Flying Experience With Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines ESA policy ensures that owners and pets will be well-cared for and respected during their travels. Here’s what customers have to say about Alaska Airlines ESA policy!

“I’m happy to pay $100 to have my elderly dog in the seat next to me.”

“Having to pay $100 to transport their pet—that’s dirt cheap! I have never had a bad experience on Alaska Airlines. Just never. From check-in to deplaning, the service has always been top notch. I can’t say that about any other airline, and I’ve flown them all.”

Are You Traveling Internationally? Check Out Location-Specific Resources to See If Your ESA is Allowed

One of the most important steps when preparing your dog for air travel is to research the requirements of taking an animal into the airport, city, state or country you are traveling to. There may be additional vaccinations or paperwork for your dog to have.

There are websites with helpful information on the rules and requirements of various destinations. You need to check whether your animal is allowed at that destination, and if they are, what the requirements are for your animal to be allowed access.

Here are some useful documents to find more information about flying with your ESA:

    • United States Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
    • Alaska Airlines Accessible Services

Do you have questions about Alaska Airlines ESA policy? Let us know in the comments below!


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