Comfort Animals are used in Animal Assisted Therapy to improve the physical, social, emotional and cognitive condition of the patient. Most Comfort Animals are dogs and cats, however this therapy can also include parrots, horses, elephants, lizards, and monkeys. These pet animals are now recognized as providing a valuable service to the elderly and to others with a medical disability and have recently reached the status of Service Animals.
Therefore, when you travel with Comfort Animals (or Therapy Animals), they are now allowed in the cabin of aircraft of the following airlines:
Domestic: Air Tran Airways, Alaska Airlines, Allegant Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines,Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest, Spirit Airlines, United, US Airways, and Virgin America.
These airlines have signed the DOT agreement relating to Comfort Animals. Other foreign carriers may also follow the new rules, but they are not obligated to do so.
The key to acceptance is a strongly worded letter from a medical professional stating that the well being of the pet's owner is at risk if they are separated from their pet. The most common reason is mental anxiety or depression and a letter from a psychiatrist will generally suffice. However, individuals with a heart condition may get a letter from their physician stating that the pet calms the pet owner and therefore reduces the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
Recent research suggests that people with psychiatric disabilities can benefit significantly from assistive animals, too. Emotional support animals have been proven extremely effective at ameliorating the symptoms of these disabilities, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, by providing therapeutic nurture and support.
We offer a 26 page document that fully explains the rules regarding both Service and Comfort Animals. It also explains the rules for taking a Service or Comfort Animal into a rabies free country such as the UK or Hawaii. Click here for additional information on Traveling with Service Animals and Comfort Animals.