Flying Southwest with an ESA Dog

I am getting real personal in this blog post about my anxiety with traveling and why Hunter is the perfect travel buddy!

Flying Southwest with an ESA Dog

As much as I love to travel, airplane rides have always made me uneasy. The anxiety usually comes the day of the flight. I always have to be at least 2 hours early for our flight, like no exceptions. I am okay with being earlier but not later. Going through security is another major part for me. Even though security is for our safety, I hate waiting in line and it makes it hard for me to breath (especially when I am flying alone). Usually when Joe is with me it makes it a little bit easier. Taking off and landing are the next hardest parts. The airport is the scariest but the plane also takes a toll on me.

I know that I do not have as bad as anxiety as others while flying but it is still justified. I know a few people that do have it WAY worse than I do and I respect that. Anxiety is not something we should joke about because it is real and people really struggle with it.

When we moved to Denver, we decided to make Hunter an ESA dog because I knew there would be times I was flying home alone without Joe. The Denver airport is big and makes me the most anxious for some reason. We made Hunter an ESA through the ESA website. I had to have a video conference with a therapist and she was there to approve his status. I qualified after my meeting with her.

When we traveled to San Diego a couple of weekends ago, we took Hunter (my ESA dog!) on his first flight through Southwest! He did an amazing job and I am so happy to have had him with me going through the airport and on the flight. We got him a backpack (it is not TSA approved but it does fit under the seat). Once on the plane, I took him out of the backpack and collapsed the bag to fit nicely under the seat so I could still stretch out my legs.

Hunter slept on my lap or sat on Joe’s lap looking out the window the whole time. I was so happy with how well he did because I can only imagine how different it must feel to be on an airplane for the first time for a dog.

I know there are tons of horror stories about dogs on airplanes around on the internet right now, but I cannot complain about our experience with Southwest and Hunter right now. We were told that Hunter could not sit on the empty seat next to us on the flight, but that wasn’t that big of deal for us. I was happy to have him sit on my lap and cuddle with me for the 2 hour flight.

If you have a hard time flying, I highly suggest an ESA dog/pet. Hunter made the process so much easier for me. I was able to hold him when I needed him and he calmed all of my nerves while going through the security and take off/landing.

We are flying with United in December and they do not have a great track record with dogs flying with them. I plan on writing a post about that experience after the new year. Southwest made everything so easy and the crews were amazing. I hope that we have the same experience come Thanksgiving when we fly with them again!

If you have any questions about flying with an ESA dog or how to make your dog one, please leave a comment below and I would be happy to help!

Flying Southwest with an ESA Dog