Traveling with a PSA by Plane, Car, Train, Bus

Written by: Lindsay Giguiere



Time to read 6 min

Traveling with a Psychiatric Service Animal, typically a dog, can be a rewarding and empowering experience. These loyal and highly trained canines provide invaluable support and companionship for individuals with psychiatric disabilities, enabling them to navigate the world more easily and confidently.

Whether planning to travel by plane, car, Amtrak, or Greyhound bus, preparing and following specific guidelines is essential to ensure a stress-free and comfortable trip for you and your loyal service dog.

In this article, we'll take you through the essentials, offering helpful advice and hints to help you travel successfully with your PSA, whichever means of transport you choose!

Traveling by Plane with a PSA

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When flying with your PSA, it's crucial to understand the specific rules and regulations of the airline you're traveling with. Here are some key points to consider:

Confirm the airline's pet policies

Different airlines have varying rules regarding traveling with dogs in the cabin. Research and understand the policies of your chosen airline before booking your ticket.

Service animals vs. emotional support animals

Service animals, including PSAs, are typically allowed in the cabin. However, it's important to note that emotional support animals have different regulations and fewer privileges. Familiarize yourself with the definitions and requirements set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Get your documentation in order

In addition to the DOT Air Transport Form for PSAs, airlines often require veterinary proof of vaccinations, PSA status, and additional forms, such as the DOT Animal Relief Attestation Form, required for flights over eight hours.

Ensure you have all the paperwork for your PSA and fill out any documents needed in advance. Typically, you'll be required to submit the forms 48 hours in advance, but if this isn't feasible due to your travel date, it's essential to take hard copies to show to staff on check-in.

Check size restrictions

Airlines often have specific size and weight restrictions for dogs and carriers. Please measure your dog and carrier to comply with the airline's regulations.

Check for any additional fees

Airlines are not permitted to charge extra when you fly with a PSA. However, most airlines charge extra fees for traveling with an ESA or regular pet dog. Enquire about the pet fees in advance to avoid surprises at the airport, and ensure you have your therapist-certified PSA letter for air travel

In-cabin safety

While some airlines offer to transport pets in the cargo hold, bringing your PSA in the cabin is generally recommended as cargo travel can be stressful for dogs and involve you being separated, perhaps for several hours. As the holder of valid PSA certification, you are entitled to travel with your canine companion in the cabin with you. Keep your dog in an airline-approved carrier under the seat in front of you and under control at all times.

Airport safety

Airports can be overwhelming for dogs, so keep your PSA on a leash or in their carrier while you're moving through the airport. You'll find pet relief areas in the airports you'll be visiting so give yourself enough time to make a visit, helping your four-legged companion feel comfortable during the flight.

Traveling by Car with a PSA

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Road trips can be a convenient and enjoyable way to travel with your PSA. Consider the following tips:

Start with short practice trips

If your dog is new to car travel, take short practice drives to help them get used to the experience. End each trip at a fun location, like a dog park or pet-friendly store, to create positive associations with car rides.

Prioritize safety

Use appropriate restraints, such as a car seat or seat belt, to secure your dog during the journey. This ensures their safety and prevents distractions while driving.

Protect your car's interior

To prevent messes, consider using a car seat cover to protect your car from fur, drool, and accidents.

Allow time for exercise and potty breaks

Like children, dogs need regular breaks for bathroom breaks and exercise. Plan your route to include dog-friendly rest stops and give your PSA ample opportunities to stretch their legs and do what dogs do.

Organize essential supplies

Carry an adequate supply of water, food, and treats for your dog, where they're easy to access during the trip. Bring their favorite toys, and don't forget to pack poop bags for responsible waste disposal.

Traveling on Amtrak with a PSA

Amtrak allows dogs on most routes, but there are certain regulations you need to be aware of:

Use an appropriate pet carrier

Your PSA must travel in an approved pet carrier that is leak-proof and well-ventilated. Familiarize yourself with the carrier size restrictions and ensure your carrier complies.

Age and odor restrictions

Amtrak requires dogs to be at least eight weeks old and odorless to travel on their trains.

Check for additional restrictions

Some routes and train types may have additional restrictions or guidelines for traveling with dogs. Verify the specific rules of your chosen route in advance.

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Traveling on a Greyhound Bus with a PSA

Greyhound allows service animals, including Psychiatric Service Animals (tyically, dogs) to accompany passengers on their buses. Here are some tips for traveling on a Greyhound bus with your PSA:

Notify Greyhound in advance

Inform Greyhound about your intention to travel with a service animal when booking your ticket. This will help them make necessary arrangements and ensure a smooth journey.

Familiarize yourself with Greyhound's policies

Understand Greyhound's guidelines for traveling with a service animal, such as where your PSA should sit and any specific requirements they may have. This will help you and your dog comply with the rules.

Prepare documentation

While Greyhound does not require specific documentation, it's always a good idea to have your PSA's identification, proof of vaccinations, and any other relevant paperwork on hand, including such as a therapist -certified letter confirming your need to have your service dog with you on your journey, in case it's requested.

Plan for comfort and breaks

Ensure your PSA is comfortable throughout the journey. Bring a familiar blanket or bedding for them, and consider scheduling rest stops during long trips, allowing your dog plenty of opportunities to stretch their legs and relieve themselves.

Be considerate of other passengers

While your PSA is a working animal, it's essential to be mindful of other passengers' comfort. Keep your dog well-behaved and under control at all times.


Q: What is the best travel crate for dogs?

A: When selecting a travel crate for your dog, it's essential to consider your dog's preferences, the crate's weight with and without your PSA inside, and any specific requirements set by airlines or train services.

Q: Which airlines allow dogs?

A: All airlines are federally mandated to allow service dogs on board. However, the rules regarding other dogs may vary. To ensure a smooth travel experience, consult our comprehensive guides on domestic airline pet policies and verify with your airline before making a reservation.

Q: How can I help my dog when we travel?

A: Even a service dog can experience stress in the unfamiliar environment of a busy airport or train station. To alleviate your dog's anxiety during travel, there are various products and techniques you can try. Calming sprays, CBD products, and compression vests are known to have a soothing effect.

Additionally, providing comforting items from home and engaging toys like treat dispensers can help distract them from stress.

Q: What are the essentials to pack when traveling with my dog?

A: When traveling with your dog, it's crucial to carry certain items with you, separate from your checked luggage. Here are the essentials:

  • Sufficient dog food and water for a couple of days
  • Your dog's medications, if any
  • Medical and vaccine records for your dog, with their PSA letter
  • A leash and a well-fitted collar or harness
  • Treats and toys to entertain your dog and encourage good behavior

By understanding and adhering to the specific guidelines for air travel, road trips, train journeys, and bus rides, individuals can embark on adventures with their PSAs by their side.

Whether it's exploring new destinations, visiting loved ones, or simply enjoying the journey, traveling with a PSA opens up a world of possibilities while providing the comfort and companionship of a trusted furry friend.

So embrace the opportunities, make unforgettable memories, and let your PSA be your trusted partner on your travels. If you are in need of a Psychiatric Service Animal Travel Letter, we are here to help. Visit our Free My Paws PSA Certification Program and begin your journey today.

Happy travels!