emotional support animals

New rules for service and emotional support animals on airplanes now in effect

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s new rules regarding service animals and emotional support animals on airplanes goes into effect January 11, 2021.

You can read all the details here, but here are some key points to keep in mind if you’re planning on flying on a commercial flight with a service animal, emotional support animal, or pet.

The new rules define 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.”

If you are planning on flying with service dog, you will be required to submit a standardized federal form to your airline attesting to the health and training of the animal and comply with other rules.

The big change is that DOT no longer considers emotional support animals to be service animals and has given airlines permission to stop giving those animals free rides.

To no surprise, many airlines are rolling out “no emotional support animals” policies. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines have already posted policies or issued statements stating that emotional support animals, be they pigs, dogs, birds, or possums, will no longer be allowed on flights after January 11. We expect other airlines to follow suit.

Pets still good to go. For a fee

Of course, airlines are happy to take pets on flights if they meet the requirements and have a paid ticket. Here are the current fees for buying a ticket for a pet to fly in the cabin on a domestic flight.

Alaska Airlines: $100 each way in the cabin; Pets allowed in the passenger cabin are dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds.

American Airlines: $125 each way.

Delta Air Lines: $125 each way. Pets allowed: small dogs, cats, and household birds.

Frontier: $99 each way. Pets allowed: dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and small household birds.

Hawaiian Airlines: $35 within Hawaii; $125 between Hawaii and mainland. Pets allowed: cats and dogs.

JetBlue: $125 each way.

Southwest: $95 each way. Pets allowed: small cats and dogs.

United Airlines: $125. Pets allowed: cats and dogs.

Temple cats – 19th to early 20th century

Alaska Airlines to give emotional support animals the boot

Back on the leash

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has ruled that airlines no longer have to make the same accommodations for emotional support animals as they do for trained service dogs.

So it was just a matter of time before airlines starting to change their policies.

And now the changes have begun.

“This regulatory change is welcome news,” said Ray Prentice, director of customer advocacy at Alaska Airlines, in a statement. “It will help us reduce disturbances on board while continuing to accommodate our guests traveling with qualified service animals,”

Alaska Airlines is the first to take action. Starting January 11, 2021, the airline will only allow trained service dogs to travel for free in the cabin.

Under the revised policy, Alaska will only accept two service dogs per guest in the cabin, including psychiatric service dogs. Anyone flying with service dogs will have to complete a DOT form attesting that their animal is a legitimate service dog, is trained and vaccinated, and will behave during the flight.

Emotional support animals, whether they be pigs, monkeys, hamsters, lizards, or miniature horses, will no longer be allowed in the cabin.

Pets, including dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds, can still fly, but they must be ticketed, at $100 each way. And passengers who bring pets onboard must keep them in a carrier, which counts towards the carry-on bag allotment.

So no more emotional support animals taking up a seat or a tray table. Or getting under you feet.

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Remember the emotional-support chicken?

Last year about this time, there was quite a stir about airlines tightening up their rules about the definition of emotional support animals.

Delta Air Lines got the ball rolling by issuing a new policy banning service and support animals under four months of age regardless of flight length. The new policy also banned emotional support animals of any age on flights longer than eight hours.

Other airlines followed Delta’s lead.

Then, right as the Christmas travel rush kicks, Popeye’s at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) shares news of a meal on its menu being served in a chicken-shaped box.

The box was labeled as an “emotional support chicken.”

The cocky campaign was a nod to news stories about the wide variety of animals, including peacocks, pigs, monkeys and spiders that try to take onboard for free.

 “We appreciate how comforting emotional support animals are and wanted to create our own version,” said Hope Diaz, CMO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, “The good news is that our emotional support chicken is permitted to fly without any restrictions – one less worry for busy travelers!”

Should they bring that emotional support chicken (in a box) back?

Tampa Int’l latest airport to tighten leash on pets

Last year, Portland International Airport and several other airports followed the lead of airlines in tightening the leash on what consitutes an ’emotional support’ animal and the expected and acceptable behavior of pets in the terminals.

The move came in response to increase incidents of aggressive pets and, in some cases, of pets biting and attacking passengers and employees in airports.

Now Tampa International Airport (TPA), which last May was in the news when a dog traveling as an emotional support animal gave birth to puppies in the terminal, has joined the herd in stepping up its enforcement of restricting non-service animals at the airport.

The aim of TPA’s new policy is reducing injuries to pets and people as well as enhancing cleanliness and sanitation at the airport.

Starting this week, TPA will begin educating pet owners about the airport policy which, it notes, has been in place for decades but loosely enforced.

The policy states that traveling non-service animals (i.e. pets) must be properly confined in a pet carrier or controlled on a leash when they are in the airport.

In addition, pets that are not traveling, such as those greeting arriving passengers in the Main Terminal, are not allowed at TPA.

At the end of March, pet owners who are not following the rules will receive warnings and there could be citations for non-compliant guests.

LIke other airport, TPA is experiencing record passenger growth and a record numbers of animals in the terminals. And TPA paramedics, police and maintenance staff are responding to an increased number of injuries to people and pets and cleaning up hundreds of pet ‘accidents.’

TPA’s policy enforcement was endorsed by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, which says the policy is a necessary measure to reduce animal incidents such as paw injuries on escalators.

What do you think of this trend? Do you bring your pet to the airport? Have you seen witnessed pets misbehaving at airports?

A pet traveling as an emotional support animal gave birth to puppies last year at Tampa International Airport.

Will this emotional support chicken fly?

Misbehaving emotional support animals on airplanes ruffle lots of feathers lately and have caused carriers to tighten up their rules.

But the emotional support chicken that Popeyes let fly at its Philadelphia International Airport location (in Terminal C) is designed to get laughs and to fill stomachs.

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On Tuesday, Popeyes rolled out a special fried chicken meal (a 3-piece tender combo) that comes packaged inside a cardboard carrier that is shaped like a chicken.

On the box is a label that identifies the container as an “Emotional Support Chicken.”

The cocky campaign is a nod to the wide variety of animals – including peacocks, pigs,monkeys and spiders – that passengers try to insist must fly in the cabin for free because they are providing important emotional support for their owners.  

Popeyes is going for giggles with this emotional support chicken, introduced just in time for the stressful holiday travel period.

 “We appreciate how comforting emotional support animals are and wanted to create our own version,” said Hope Diaz, CMO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, “The good news is that our emotional support chicken is permitted to fly without any restrictions – one less worry for busy travelers!”

Stuck at the Airport is declaring Popeyes’ emotional support chicken a top contender for the airport amenity of the week.