US airlines can ban emotional support animals from flights

Graeme Massie
·2-min read
 US airlines can ban emotional support animals from flights (AP)
US airlines can ban emotional support animals from flights (AP)

US airlines can now ban emotional support animals from flights after the government closed a major loophole for travellers.

For the Department of Transport has ruled that they are no longer to be considered service animals, which by law have to be allowed with passengers on commercial flights.

Under a revised version of the Air Carrier Access Act rules a service animal is now defined as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.”

With emotional support animals now not considered service animals airlines can go ahead and prevent them flying.

Airlines will be able to set individual policies but they must all conform to DOT rules, which will go into place 30 days after being published in the Federal Register.

The change reveres DOT guidance from last year which said airlines could not restrict passengers from traveling with emotional support animals, not ban specific breeds of species.

The move came after the DOT received 15,000 comments from the public on the matter.

“The final rule announced today addresses concerns raised by individuals with disabilities, airlines, flight attendants, airports, other aviation transportation stakeholders, and other members of the public, regarding service animals on aircraft,” said the DOT in a statement.

Airlines have been critical of passengers bringing onboard animals to avoid paying travel fees for them.

Some emotional support animals, such as a small pony, a peacock, pigs, a duck, a turkey and a kangaroo have gone viral after being brought aboard planes and trains by their owners.

The move was welcomed by disability advocates when it was first mooted in January.

“This is a wonderful step in the right direction for people like myself who are dependent on and reliant on legitimate service animals,” said Albert Rizzi, founder of My Blind Spot, at the time.

It was also welcomed by airline employees.

“The days of Noah’s Ark in the air are hopefully coming to an end,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants.

Read More

Emotional support animals people have tried to bring on planes

The strangest emotional support animals on planes

US proposes crackdown on emotional support animals on flights

Airlines roll out health ‘passports’ for Covid-free travellers