Can Hotels Charge Extra for an Emotional Support Animal?

If you’re traveling with an emotional support animal (ESA), you may be wondering if hotels can charge you extra for your furry friend.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Hotels are not allowed to charge extra fees for emotional support animals.

In this article, we’ll explore the legal protections for ESAs, the difference between ESAs and service animals, and what hotels can and cannot do when it comes to accommodating guests with ESAs.

So, whether you’re a frequent traveler with an ESA or just curious about your rights, read on to learn more.

Understanding Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are animals that provide therapeutic benefits to individuals with mental or emotional disabilities. ESAs are different from service animals in that they do not require any specific training to perform tasks for their owners. Instead, their primary function is to provide companionship and emotional support.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal can be any type of animal, such as a dog, cat, bird, or even a rabbit. The animal must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, to an individual with a mental or emotional disability. ESAs are often used to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

ESAs are not considered pets, and their owners are entitled to certain legal protections under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.

How are ESAs different from Service Animals?

Service animals receive specialized training to perform specific tasks for their owners with disabilities, such as guiding individuals with visual impairments or alerting individuals with hearing impairments. Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are allowed to accompany their owners in public places.

ESAs, on the other hand, do not require specific training and are not allowed in public places that do not permit animals, such as restaurants or grocery stores. However, ESAs are allowed in housing units that have a “no pets” policy and on airplanes with their owners.

Legal Protections for Emotional Support Animals

Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers are required to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including allowing ESAs in housing units that have a “no pets” policy. However, housing providers may require documentation from a licensed mental health professional verifying the individual’s need for an ESA.

Under the Air Carrier Access Act, individuals with ESAs are allowed to travel with their animals on airplanes free of charge. Airlines may require documentation from a licensed mental health professional and advance notice of the animal’s presence.

It is important to note that while ESAs are protected under these laws, they are not permitted in all public places and may be subject to certain restrictions. It is important for individuals with ESAs to familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations surrounding their animals to avoid any legal issues.

Hotel Policies for Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals (ESAs) provide comfort and support to their owners. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with disabilities are allowed to have ESAs in their homes and on flights. However, when it comes to hotels, the rules are different.

What Hotels Can and Cannot Do

Hotels are not required to allow ESAs on their premises. However, if a hotel allows pets, they must also allow ESAs. Additionally, hotels cannot charge a fee for the ESA itself, but they can charge for damages caused by the animal.

It’s important to note that ESAs are not the same as service animals. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities and are allowed in all public places, including hotels. ESAs do not require any special training and are not afforded the same legal protections as service animals.

How to Request Accommodations for Your ESA

If you plan to travel with an ESA, it’s important to contact the hotel ahead of time to request accommodations. You may be required to provide documentation from a licensed mental health professional stating that you have a disability and that the ESA is necessary for your emotional well-being.

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the hotel’s specific policies regarding ESAs. Some hotels may have size or breed restrictions, while others may require that the animal be crated when left alone in the room.

What to Do If Your Rights are Violated

If a hotel denies your request to bring your ESA or charges an extra fee for the animal, you may have legal recourse. Contact the hotel management to discuss the issue and provide documentation if necessary. If the issue cannot be resolved, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice or seek legal assistance.

It’s important to remember that while ESAs can provide much-needed emotional support, they are not entitled to the same legal protections as service animals. Be respectful of hotel policies and do your best to ensure that your ESA is well-behaved and not disruptive to other guests.

Tips for Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal

Preparing for Your Trip

Traveling with an emotional support animal can be a stressful experience, but with the right preparation, it can also be a smooth one. First, make sure to research the airline’s policies regarding emotional support animals before booking your flight. Some airlines require advanced notice and documentation, so be sure to have all necessary paperwork prepared ahead of time. It’s also important to make sure your animal is up to date on all vaccinations and has a clean bill of health from your veterinarian.

Navigating the Airport

Navigating the airport with an emotional support animal can be overwhelming, but there are a few things you can do to make the experience less stressful. Consider using a carrier or harness to transport your animal through the airport, and be sure to check with your airline regarding their policies on animal transport. It’s also a good idea to arrive at the airport early to allow for any unexpected delays or issues that may arise.

Staying in a Hotel

Hotels are required by law to allow emotional support animals, but some may charge an additional fee for their stay. Before booking your hotel, be sure to inquire about their policies regarding emotional support animals and any fees associated with their stay. If the hotel does charge a fee, it’s important to remember that they cannot charge an additional fee simply because the animal is an emotional support animal. If you encounter any issues during your stay, don’t hesitate to speak with the hotel management or contact a disability rights organization for assistance.


In conclusion, hotels are not allowed to charge extra fees for emotional support animals, thanks to legal protections for individuals with disabilities.

However, it’s important to understand the difference between ESAs and service animals, as well as the specific policies and procedures of the hotel you’ll be staying at.

By following these guidelines and advocating for your rights, you can travel with your ESA with confidence and peace of mind.

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