Many pet owners decide to take their pets when go shopping or traveling in order to avoid stressful situations for their beloved fluffy friends. If you want to fly with your pet you need to be familiar with the pet policy of the airlines you have chosen, so that a nice and comfortable flight will be guaranteed. Of course, it is a different case, when you have been accompanied by a service dog or an emotional support animal (ESA). Service dogs have not deemed pets and as we mentioned in many of our previous articles, they are subject to the ADA regulations. Service animals are allowed to accompany their handlers wherever they go. ESA does not have the same access rights as service dogs have, since they are not trained to perform specific tasks, directly related to their handler’s disability.
If you have decided to take your service dog or ESA onboard, you need to check the carrier’s policy in regard to their access rights. You need to keep in mind, that service animals are not a subject of the standard airlines’ pet policy.
One of the most popular low-cost Canadian airlines, that provides scheduled, as well as charter services to 85 destinations is WestJet Airlines. If you have chosen to fly with this carrier, there are some things you need to consider before taking your service dog or ESA.
What To Do Before Booking A Flight
You need to provide all necessary devices to restrain your dog i.e. harness (some authorities may require your dog to be harnessed) and to ensure that he/she does not possess any threat to the health or safety of other passengers or crew members. If your dog is not well-behaved, he/she may not be allowed to stay in the cabin or to be transported as a service animal. You always need to check carefully the regulations of the destination in regard to service animals. In order to get suitable seating, you will be requested by WestJet Airlines to provide notice at least 48 hours prior to travel. If you have booked a vacation package, you have to give notice at least 7 days prior to travel.
When Your Dog Will Be Qualified As A Service Dog
Only people with physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities are permitted to take service dogs onboard. Service dogs must be trained and certified in order to stay free of charge in the cabin to/from most destinations. There might be exceptions, and you may need to check the carrier website. If you need to take a transit flight, provided by a partner airline company, you also need to call that company and comply with their regulations.
If your service dog in training does not require additional space in the cabin, he/she will be allowed to stay in the cabin without additional fees being charged.
What Documentation You Need To Provide
You may not be required to provide a Registered Certificate Identification card or other applicable documentation. In case that airline employees doubt your verbal assurance, you may need to hand documentation over to them. Different indicators like tags or harnesses may also be accepted as proof that a dog is currently on duty.
It is important to note that you will be required to give advance notice in case that your dog will need additional floor space. In accordance with the Implementation Guide Regarding Space for Service Dogs Onboard Large Aircraft of the Canadian Transportation Agency's Code of Practice, you may be requested to provide information about your dog’s: weight, length, height, width, and breed. If the airline management decides that your dog will need additional floor space, you have to contact them within 48 hours prior to departure. In this case, you will not be charged for additional seating.
Maximum Number Of Service Dogs Per Person
The presence of only one service dog per person is allowed. If you are considering taking a second service dog, your request will be evaluated on a “case-by-case basis”.
Can A Dog Stay On Your Lap?
Yes, your service dog may lay on your lap, but he/she should not exceed the size of a child at the age of two. If your dog is considered oversized, he/she should be held at your feet. If the weight and the size of a service dog are determined by the airline employees' unsafe, he/she may not be allowed to stay in the cabin.
Importing And Exporting Regulations
When deciding to travel with a service dog you have to complete all required documentation and health certificates prior to departure.
You need to prove that you have complied with all requirements and regulations of countries of origin, transit, and destination.
If you are unable to provide the necessary documentation, your dog may be put in quarantine, and you will need to bear all costs for his/her care during the quarantine. We would recommend that you call the relevant consulate or embassy in order to guarantee that all documentation and vaccination are properly provided.
Are There Restrictions Based On The Destination?
Yes, there are some destination restrictions in regard to the presence of service dogs.
“Animals are not accepted on flights to or from: Bridgetown, Barbados, Montego Bay, and Kingston, Jamaica”
These restrictions have been enforced due to quarantine and entrance regulations.
ESA Requirements Before You Make Your Reservation
Whether you intend to travel with a service dog or with an ESA you need to check the import regulations, since your dog’s access may be denied.
Similar to the service dog requirements you have to notify the carrier’s employees that you will travel with an ESA at least 48 hours prior to travel. This notice is important so that appropriate seating can be guaranteed. If you do not give notice within this time frame, you may not be allowed to travel with your dog as an assistive dog. You need to make sure that your dog will be under your control during the flight using all the necessary tools. If your dog puts passengers’ and crew members’ health and safety at risk, he/she may not be permitted to travel with you as an ESA. In order to ensure appropriate transfers and accommodations, the airline requests a notice provided by ESA handlers on a vacation package at least 7 days prior to travel.
ESA Number Limitation Per Person
One ESA or psychiatric service dog is permitted per person. If you would like to take more assistive dogs, the carrier will review your request on a “case-by-case” basis.
What Animals May and May Not Be Accepted As ESA
Because of safety and health concerns, the following animals will not be allowed as Emotional Support Animals or Psychiatric Service Animals:
Amphibians, Animals improperly cleaned and/or with a foul odor, Animals with tusks, horns, or hooves, Ferrets, Goats, Hedgehogs, Insects, Non-household birds (birds of prey, farm poultry, game birds, waterfowl), Reptiles, Rodents, Snakes, Spiders, Sugar gliders.
ESA Age Restrictions
If you have chosen to travel with this carrier, you need to keep in mind that your ESA or psychiatric service dog should be at least at the age of 4 months.
What Documentation You Will Be Requested To Provide
You will be requested to complete, print, and email three forms to “SpecialCareDesk@westjet.com” within 48 hours prior to travel. The forms should have been issued a maximum of a year before travel, and you need to have them during the flight.
A signed by the trainer or owner of the dog confirmation of animal training;
A Medical/mental health professional, that must include: “the medical professional’s license number, type of license, and jurisdiction in which the license was issued.” This form needs to be signed by the relevant medical professional.
Veterinary health- this form has to be signed by the animal’s veterinarian.
An important detail is that you are not allowed to provide electronic signatures.
Since some authorities may require identification for your dog, you may want him/her to wear a vest or any kind of verification onboard.
ESA Seating Regulations
The Seating requirements for ESA are identical to the seating regulations for service dogs.
Where Your ESA May And May Not Stay During The Flight?
ESA and psychiatric service dogs can stay in a kennel on the floor during the flight. If you want to keep your dog on the lap, he/she should not be larger than a child at the age of two. You need to keep in mind that only one ESA or psychiatric service dog is allowed to be held on the lap. Oversized animals must travel at the feet of their handlers.
Assistance animals are not allowed to stay in the emergency exit row.
Importing And Exporting Regulations
For both service dogs and ESA you need to complete all requested documentation and health certificates and to comply (and to provide proof) with the regulations of the countries of origin, transit, and destination.
The presence of animals is not allowed on flights to or from the following countries:
Bridgetown, Barbados, Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica, United Kingdom (Great Britain and Scotland) – only service animals are accepted, emotional support animals are not accepted.