No more crazy support animals on US flights

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December 04, 2020
support animals

Finally, there will be no more crazy support animals on US flights after the Department of Transportation announced it is revising its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on the transportation of service animals by air.

The new ruling, which will be effective from early January 2021, 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.

The carriage of support animals reached an absurd level in the US with passengers claiming they needed the emotional support animal in the cabin thus avoiding paying about $174 for the pet to be carried in the cargo hold.

According to the BBC Delta Air Lines said that some passengers “attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes” and spiders.

In the same year, American Airlines banned goats, ferrets, hedgehogs, amphibians, and reptiles.

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Other passengers have brought pigs on board and miniature horses. Below is a twitter video of a service animal, called Flirty, which was spotted onboard an American Airlines flight from Chicago, Illinois, to Omaha, Nebraska in 2019.

The final and full ruling from the Department of Transport could be found here but in brief states:

  • 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;
  • No longer considers an emotional support animal to be a service animal;
  • Allows airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal’s health, behavior, and training, and if taking a long flight attesting that the service animal can either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner;
  • Allows airlines to require individuals traveling with a service animal to provide the DOT service animal form(s) up to 48 hours in advance of the date of travel if the passenger’s reservation was made prior to that time;
  • Allows airlines to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals;
  • Allows airlines to require a service animal to fit within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft;
  • Allows airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed, or tethered at all times in the airport and on the aircraft;
  • Continues to allow airlines to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior and that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others; and
  • Continues to prohibit airlines from refusing to transport a service animal solely based on breed.

The final rule will be effective 30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.