Just a month ago, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it will no longer consider emotional support animals to be service animals. Specifically speaking, the DOT currently defines a service animal as a "dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability." As a result, airlines now have the right to ban furry creatures from their cabins if not fitting pre-established rules for pets.
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Throughout the past few weeks, a slew of airlines have announced that, in reaction to the DOT's latest ruling, they will no longer allow support animals to board their aircrafts.
American Airlines made public that, effective February 1, all passengers traveling with an emotional support animal will only be able to do so if bringing them on board as cargo or as a carry-on (the price of the latter option: $125). The types of animals permitted on the carrier's planes are also limited to a certain set of dog and cat breeds. You can find specific restrictions right here.
On American Airlines flights in particular, service animals will still be accepted on board if accompanying folks with disabilities that have completed a DOT form attesting the animal's behavior, training and health at least 48 hours before boarding.
Alaska Airlines is expected to announce a similar policy next week although word on the street is that emotional support animals set to board already-booked reservations through February 28 will still be allowed to do so.
Delta Air Lines is also reviewing its policy, but no official announcement regarding potential changes has yet been made.
Conversations about animals on flights have been going on for years, with airlines, the government and passengers seeking to set up rules that benefit all parties. Let's see if this one sticks...
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