New Rules For Flying With Emotional Support Animals

New rules require passengers with emotional support animals to pay the pet fee or leave them at home.

White fluffy emotional support dog ready to board a flight

A rule allows airlines to treat ESAs as pets

In December 2020, the US Department of Transportation released a final rule that affects people traveling with emotional support animals. It defines a service animal as “a dog of any breed or type that is individually trained to perform work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified person with a disability, including a physical disability, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other. disability.”

Emotional support animals do not meet this definition. Although they provide comfort and support to their owners, the training of an ESA does not include performing tasks such as service animals. The rule goes on to say that airlines “are not required to recognize emotional support animals as service animals and may treat them as pets.”

LEARN MORE ⇒ How to Take a Cross-Country Road Trip With Pets

Blind woman and her Golden Retriever service dog

The Department of Transportation proposed the new rule in January 2020 and received more than 15,000 comments. While some commentators favored dropping protections for support animals, twice as many people spoke out in favor, the department said.

The agency changed the rule in part to stem the flood of passengers carrying unusual animals on board. He also cited the growing frequency of people “fraudulently misrepresenting their pets as service animals.”

These actions “have eroded public confidence in legitimate service animals.”

Airlines respond with new policies

In response to the new rule, nearly every national airline announced that emotional support animals would no longer fly for free. The following airlines have announced that they will no longer recognize emotional support animals:

Currently, WestJet recognizes emotional support animals and allows them to fly in the cabin for free. On all other carriers, only trained service dogs will fly in the cabin without being in a carrier. And airlines can require people with service dogs to submit documentation up to 48 hours before a flight showing the dog’s health, vaccinations, behavior and training.

The rule does not allow airlines to bar travelers with service animals from checking in online like other passengers.

White fluffy dog ​​waiting at airport with pet carrier and baggage in background

Airlines consider all other animals as pets. They can fly in carriers that fit under the seat in the cabin or in cargo. In all cases, owners will have to pay a pet fee, which varies by airline.

Airlines are estimated to earn up to $59.6 million a year in pet fees.

Delta weighs in on banning pit bulls

In the new rule, the DoT upheld an earlier ruling on pit bulls. Their decision prohibits airlines from banning entire breeds of dogs as service animals. It’s a setback for Delta Air Lines, which banned “pit bull-type dogs” in 2018.

LEARN MORE ⇒ Denver Lifts Pit Bull Ban – Should You Go?

Outdoor portrait close-up American Pit Bull Terrier in Denver

Delta, however, is not backing down. In a statement, a Delta spokeswoman said the airline is reviewing the new rule, but “at this time, there are no changes to Delta’s current policies regarding animal service and assistance. “.

More road trips

With pet fees starting at $100 per trip, pet owners should consider road trips with their furry travel companions. Whether it’s a trip to hike in the mountains, have fun on the beach, or explore a new city, GoPetFriendly is here to help you do more together.

LEARN MORE ⇒ America’s Ultimate Pet-Friendly Road Trip

New Rules For Flying With Emotional Support Animals

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