American Airlines is the latest airline to prohibit emotional support animals on its flights in order to align with regulations recently issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
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Starting Feb.1, only trained service dogs will be able to fly in the cabin, the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier announced in a note on its website. Passengers will also be required to submit the DOT’s Service Animal Air Transportation form before their trip to confirm that their animal is a legitimate service dog.
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American’s notice comes just a week after Alaska Airlines issued the same warning to its customers in order to adhere to the DOT’s revised rules regarding the transportation of service animals. In December, the government agency had formally ruled that only dogs can fly as service animals, and companions that passengers use for emotional support don’t count.
When the DOT’s rule takes effect on Jan. 11, American says it will no longer “authorize new travel for animals” that do not meet the DOT’s definition.
However, if a passenger is traveling with an animal that doesn’t qualify as a trained service animal, it may be transported as a pet.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS WILL NO LONGER BE CONSIDERED SERVICE ANIMALS ON FLIGHTS, DOT DECIDES
The government’s new rule aims to settle years of tension between airlines and passengers who bring their pets on board for free by saying they need them for emotional help. Under a longstanding department policy, all the passengers needed was a note from a health professional.
ALASKA AIRLINES WILL NO LONGER ALLOW EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS ON FLIGHTS
The agency said they were prompted to revise its rules partly because passengers carrying unusual animals on board “eroded the public trust in legitimate service animals.” It also cited the increasing frequency of people “fraudulently representing their pets as service animals,” and a rise in misbehavior by emotional-support animals, ranging from peeing on the carpet to biting other passengers.
Jessica Tyler, vice president of Airport Excellence for America, said the airline is confident that the new rule will help to “better serve our customers, particularly those with disabilities who travel with service animals” and better protect its team members.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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