Frontier Airlines is one of the least restrictive airlines in allowing your small pets to fly with you, but there have been some major changes to their policies on emotional support animals (ESA).
As of February 1, 2021, Frontier Airlines no longer allows ESAs to fly with their owners. However, as required by the Air Carrier Access Act, service dogs and psychiatric service dogs are permitted, along with select small and contained non-service animals.
In response to incidents with untrained ESAs, the Department of Transportation (DOT) tightened restrictions on animals that air carriers are required to let on board in accordance with the ACAA. This has now been defined as only service dogs, or psychiatric service dogs trained to do work or perform a task for a person with a diagnosed physical or mental disability.
Many air carriers, including Frontier Airlines, have updated their policies in conformance with these new guidelines.
What Is the ACAA?
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) is a piece of U.S. code through the U.S. Department of Transportation that requires all people with disabilities to have equal access to an airplane’s services.
This often means that air carriers need to make accommodations for travelers with disabilities; this includes but isn’t limited to wheelchair accessibility and assistance, assistance for those who are hearing or sight-impaired, and allowing service dogs on board.
What Is the Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Dog?
Emotional support animals (ESAs) are animals that provide comfort to patients with mental or emotional distress. To be an official ESA, the owner or patient has to get a letter from a medical provider stating the need for the animal.
While ESAs are very comforting, they do not have specialized training to do any particular task to relieve a disability. ESAs can be any species of animal but are typically dogs or cats.
Service dogs are typically referred to as working dogs instead of pets. They have specialized training to do defined tasks and work that help to aid people with diagnosed physical or mental impairments. As an example, service dogs can alert if their handler is about to have a hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic event by constant nudging, can brace a handler who has fallen, open doors, or be way-finders for those who are sight-impaired.
Psychiatric service dogs are considered a type of service dog that is trained to help assist their handlers with diagnosed emotional or mental disabilities. For example, psychiatric service dogs can interrupt a PTSD flashback, remind their handlers to take medication, or alert to an oncoming panic attack. While ESAs can be any type of animal, service and psychiatric animals can only be dogs. Service dogs are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ESAs are not.
Frontier Airlines’ Policies Regarding Service Dogs
In accordance with the ACAA, Frontier Airlines allows all trained and well-behaved service dogs or psychiatric service dogs on board; they do not allow service dogs in training.
The airline does require that all handlers have a completed Service Animal Air Transportation form submitted to them no later than 48 hours before departure. For flights booked less than 48 hours prior to travel, passengers must submit the completed form to a customer service agent once they arrive at the airport. Frontier Airlines suggests keeping a copy of the Service Animal Air Transportation on your person in case any representatives at check-in, the terminal, or onboard ask to see it.
Frontier Airlines may ask about a traveler’s dog and the tasks or work it is trained to do before they accept it on board as a service dog. They may also assess if a service dog will be a hindrance to other passengers on the plane. For example, this may include aggressive growling or constant whining that is not intended as an alert to the disabled traveler.
Service dogs must be seated on the floor of the cabin at all times unless it is a lapdog that is no bigger than a 2-year-old child. Frontier Airlines asks that service dogs not touch seats, neighboring seats, or tray tables. Service dogs cannot block any exits, and passengers traveling with service dogs may not be seated in an exit row. Frontier Airlines limits service dogs to two dogs per passenger.
While service animals are not required to be in a carrier, passengers who travel with their service dog in a carrier must properly stow the carrier for taxi, take-off, and landing.
What Kinds of Animals Can Fly with Frontier Airlines?
Frontier Airlines is one of the least restrictive airlines when it comes to the species of animals it allows onboard as non-service pets. Domesticated dogs, cats, small household birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, or rabbits are all allowed to fly on Frontier flights within the United States.
Large birds (like parrots or macaws), amphibians, beavers, ferrets, insects, reptiles (including snakes), rodents (mice, rats, and squirrels), and spiders are never permitted.
Pets must be able to fit in a carrier as a personal item that is no bigger than 8” (H) x 14” (W) x 18” (L), or a carrier as a carry-on bag no bigger than 10” (H) x 16” (W) x 24” (L). Carriers have to be placed under the seat in front of you and your pet must be able to sit, stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably in the carrier.
Animals traveling in a carrier, with the exception of service dogs, may not be removed from the carrier at any point on the plane.
Preparing to Travel with Your Animal
Frontier Airlines suggests that animals not have food or water for four hours prior to taking off, as some animals may get nauseous in-flight. While many people think using sedatives for their pet is a good idea, Frontier asks that you check with your veterinarian first, as sedatives can often pose a risk for an animal’s breathing at higher altitudes.
Passengers traveling with pets or service dogs are asked not to feed or water their pets on board.
All terminals are required by the ACAA to have animal relief areas, they may not be easily apparent, so passengers might want to look up where they’re located in the terminal before they fly.
Veterinary Health Form
Frontier Airlines does not require any pets or service dogs to have a veterinary health form, however, your destination city might. It’s important that passengers traveling with any animal look up the local laws of their destination to see what’s required.
It’s important to know that if your destination city does require a veterinary health form, health forms typically must be completed within a certain time-frame before travel. A veterinarian should be able to advise you.
While Frontier Airlines does not require a health form, it’s highly suggested that animals flying receive a veterinary check to make sure they’re healthy enough to fly.
Can My Pet Travel in the Cargo Hold or as Checked Baggage?
No. Frontier Airlines does not accept any animals in the cargo hold or as checked baggage.
What Does It Cost to Fly with an Animal on Frontier Airlines?
The ACAA requires that all service dogs fly free, anyone flying with a non-service animal will need to pay a $99 fee each way.
Does My Animal Need to Go Through Security?
Yes. All service and non-service animals are subject to a TSA screening. When possible, animals in a carrier will need to be removed for the carrier to go through an x-ray scanner. Animals may be required to go through a non-x-ray metal detector.