Spirit is the latest of a number of airlines moving to tighten its policy on the emotional support animals that it allows on board.
The new rule, which goes into effect on October 15, means that passengers who want to travel with an ESA must provide notice 48 hours in advance and provide 3 forms of documentation rather than 1.
**Please note, as of January 11, 2021, under new regulations passed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the allowance of Emotional Support Animals onboard flights may vary from airline to airline. Please contact your airline of choice for their most up-to-date policies on Emotional Support Animals.
Spirit Airlines: An ESA Letter By Itself Will Not Work
Previously, passengers were able to present at the airport with their ESA with no prior notice. After reporting to a Spirit agent with their animal and the required documentation, an ESA letter, they were immediately granted approval to travel with the airline.
However, passengers must now alert Spirit before arriving at the airport. While Spirit’s ESA Policy says it will every attempt to process requests made less than 48 hours before flights, travel will not be guaranteed.
“If these forms are not submitted at least 48 hours prior to your flight, while we will do our best to review and approve them, we cannot guarantee travel with your animal,” said the airline.
Passengers are now also required to submit more documentation than before when traveling with an ESA on the budget airline.
An emotional support animal now requires the following documents in order to travel with Spirit:
- A certification from a licensed mental health professional treating the passenger for a mental health-related disability
- Certification from a licensed veterinarian
- A liability form that states the passenger’s responsibilities, including that the passenger takes full responsibility for “the safety, well-being, and conduct of this animal, including the animal’s interactions with other animals and/or individuals”
Some critics of moves to tighten their ESA policies say airlines are financially motivated, while others praise the new rules which they say protect flight staff and other passengers from unfortunate incidents.
Airlines have been accused of attempting to stop customers from claiming their pets as ESAs, in order to continue charging a pet fee. Passengers who do not meet the emotional support animal or service animal requirements of an airline for bringing a pet aboard are generally required to pay an excess pet fee.
However, in recent reports, airline staff have confirmed the issues they face with the huge amount of new ESAs on aircraft. In a recent survey, up to 61 percent of flight attendants confirmed that they had witnessed an emotional support animal support cause a disturbance on a flight. The Association of Flight Attendants is calling for a clampdown on ESAs, due to what it calls a ‘rampant abuse’ of the rules surrounding them.
‘The rampant abuse of claiming a need for emotional support animals in air travel is negatively impacting all passengers. It’s a safety, health, and security issue,’ said Sarah Nelson, president of the AFA.
The AFA supports those passengers that legitimately require service and support animals to travel with them.
Spirit is Flying in the Right Direction Says CertaPet!
At Certapet, we are all for these new clearer policies regarding emotional support animals traveling on aircraft at Spirit Airlines.
With clearer policies in place, the sky can be a safe and happy place for not only ESAs and their owners, but also flight staff and other passengers.
The new stricter policies are bound to have positive effects on those who legitimately travel with emotional support and service animals, which is an excellent thing for those in need of assistance.
If your life could be improved by an ESA, see if you qualify by taking our simple 5-minute prescreening test now.