Alaska & American Airlines Ban Emotional Support Animals on Flights & Change Service Animal Policy

American Airlines announced Tuesday that they will officially be banning most Emotional Support Animals (ESA) from the cabin on flights effective Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Customers with existing tickets may travel according to the old rules until Feb. 1st. However, any new tickets purchased from this point forward will follow the new policy if those flights fall after Jan. 11th. There are also some revisions to the policy on how they will handle Service Animals on flights to consider as well.

You can read the America Airlines full press release on this issue online. The press release explains: "The new policies and procedures are intended to support customers with disabilities and the Service Animals that travel with them, as well as the team members who work to keep customers safe."

Further, the policy change states, "that animals that previously traveled as Emotional Support Animals and no longer qualify as a Service Animal, may still travel as carry-on pets or as cargo pets, as long they meet requirements."

Finally, American Airlines says it will "ask customers traveling with Service Animals to complete a DOT form attesting to the dog’s behavior, training and health. The airline will require this form to be submitted electronically 48 hours in advance of a flight, unless the reservation is booked within 48 hours of travel. A Service Animal’s authorization will be valid for one year or until the expiration of its vaccinations." A veterinarian can help by verifying if your service dog meets flight requirements with a consultation.

American Airlines is the latest U.S. carrier to ban Emotional Support Animals from in cabin flights following the DOT federal rule change announced last month. Alaska Airlines was the first U.S. Airline to officially ban Emotional Support Animals (ESA) this month. They made their announcement just a days before American Airlines followed suit.

Alaska says it will continue to accept Emotional Support Animals under its current policy for reservations booked prior to Jan. 11, 2021, which cover flights on or before Feb. 28, 2021. Then, no emotional support animals will be accepted for travel after Feb, 28, 2021.

Alaska airline, explains that it will now accept a maximum of two service dogs per guest in the cabin. This includes psychiatric service dogs. Passengers will be required to submit a DOT form, which will be available on beginning Jan. 11. This is to attest that the animal is a legitimate service dog, is trained and vaccinated and “will behave appropriately during the journey.”

The policy from Alaska Air says it’s just following the new DOT rules. The airline says the rule changes came about after “feedback from the airline industry and disability community regarding numerous instances of Emotional Support Animal misbehavior which caused injuries, health hazards and damage to aircraft cabins.”

Both airlines are following the guidelines established by the federal rule change which defined new standards regarding Emotional Support Animals vs. Service Dogs. Going forward these airlines will only transport in cabin, “Service Dogs, which are specially trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability.” The DOT no longer requires airlines to make the same accommodations for emotional support animals as it does for trained service dogs. The DOT effectively narrowed the scope of what’s considered a “service animal” to a Service Dog.

Guests traveling with a Service Dog must complete and submit the DOT’s Service Animal Air Transportation Form, attesting to the dog’s health, behavior, and training going forward which will be provided by the airline during your booking. At Assistance Animals Consulting, our veterinarians specialize in working with Emotional Support and Service Animals. If you need help with this form our veterinarians can assist you with an online veterinary consultation to ensure your Service Dog's health, behavior, and training are verified before your flight.

151 views0 comments