Alaska Airlines ESA Travel Policies
Alaska Airlines has a document that must be filled out in entirety and signed by your mental health professional or physician. This form must be dated no earlier than 1 year prior to travel and it must be submitted to Alaska Airlines by email or fax no later than 48 hours prior to travel. This form certifies that you as the passenger are familiar with and will abide by Alaska Airlines' ESA policy and strongly recommends (emphasis Alaska Airlines) that you travel with a current veterinary health certificate for your ESA. It has a section for your mental health professional to fill out that contains basic demographic information about your ESA. It also certifies that you have a mental health disability listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and that you are under the care of the mental health professional who signed the form. Finally, along with more demographic information about your ESA such as ESA name, breed and weight, there are boxes to affirm understanding of the ESA policy and taking responsibility should anything occur such as damage or injury. After these documents are submitted and reviewed, Alaska Airlines will respond with a confirmation via email. Alaska Airlines requires you to keep hard copies of these documents on hand for the duration of your journey in case anything comes up. Also remember, you must fill out separate documents for each ESA that you travel with, should you travel with more than one.
Since you will be signing documents with the rules on them, it is important to understand what you will be signing.
The first thing you should know, even as you begin planning your trip, is that not all destinations have the same rules and requirements for ESAs, and if you take your ESA out of the country and then make a return trip, your ESA will be subject to the rules on animals entering the USA. Please be sure to check with all of the rules of your airport, state, and country to make sure that you have all the required documentation. Also remember that ESAs are not always recognized outside the USA, as that is subject to each individual country's laws. Be sure to plan ahead!
One destination you should take note of is Hawaii. Although Hawaii is a domestic destination, it has special rules to protect its rabies-free status. Only dogs and cats are permitted as ESAs there, and they must have proper health documentation. Without it, your ESA may be subject to a 120-day quarantine period. Please contact the state of Hawaii prior to travel to ensure all requirements for vaccinations and possible quarantine can be met.
ESA Behavior Requirements
Another important Alaska Airlines ESA policy is that your ESA must follow basic commands and behave appropriately at all times. If your ESA behaves inappropriately, not only will it not be considered an ESA (and therefore be subject to the pet fee), it may also be removed from the aircraft entirely. If your ESA damages airline or fellow passenger's property, or if your ESA causes an injury, you will accept liability and pay for any expenses that occur as a result.
Alaska Airlines considers the following behavior unacceptable for ESAs:
- Excessive barking
- Biting, snapping, lunging, or growling at other passengers or animals
- Wandering around without being under the physical control of the handler
- Using any other area other than the designated pet relief stations in an airport to relieve themselves
- Sitting on an airline seat
- Placing any part of the ESA on a tray table (including eating off the tray table)
- Not obeying the handler's commands
- Jumping on other passengers or airline or airport employees
To help comply with these rules, remember to use the pet relief areas in the airport prior to boarding. While these areas are not under Alaska Airlines' direct control, the helpful Alaska Airlines staff can provide the location of the nearest pet relief area along with directions to get there.
The documents also discuss seating. Your ESA is never permitted on the seat. If it is the size of a 2-year-old child or smaller, it may be on your lap for the duration of the flight. It may be crated in an airline-approved carrier underneath the seat in front of you, although this is not required. If a carrier or lap is not an option, it is permitted to occupy the floor of your seat area. Note that although ESAs are not permitted in exit rows, Alaska Airlines is happy to help find you a seat with the most leg room to help accommodate your ESA. Also note that they recommend choosing a window seat so that your ESA is less likely to interfere with the aisle or any other passengers sharing your row.
ESA Animal Restrictions
Alaska Airlines generally permits household animals such as dogs, cats, and household birds as ESAs. Here is a list of animals that are not accepted as ESAs.
- Insects (including spiders)
- Amphibians and reptiles (including snakes)
- Sugar gliders
- Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, and birds of prey)
- Animals improperly cleaned and/or foul odor
- Animals with tusks, horns, or hooves (except miniature horses that are trained to behave appropriately)
- Any unusual or exotic animals
If you are unsure of how your ESA fits into these regulations, please speak to an Alaska Airlines employee before booking your flight so you will know ahead of time if your ESA will be allowed on the flight.
We hope this helps provide you with the information you need to plan your trip with your ESA and Alaska Airlines. Be sure to contact Alaska Airlines to get all forms filled out and submitted, as well as to check for any updates to their policy.