If you have an upcoming flight and expect to carry an emotional support animal, don’t reserve your seat just yet.
American Airlines has revised its policies regarding which species it allows on board as service animals. The new guidelines also require passengers with such animals to preregister at least two days before the flight. If you plan on traveling with your ESA in tow, you'll definitely want to check the regulations first!
American Airlines is now banning these service animals:
According to the new guidelines, American Airlines is prohibiting a few specific types of emotional animals. The company has identified hedgehogs, goats, and insects as no longer allowed on flights. American has also banned unclean, odorous animals as well as those that could pose a public safety risk. In a press release announcing the new policy, the airline explained the reason for the new prohibitions.
“We support the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs for a trained service or support animal,” the company stated. “Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our customers, and working dogs onboard our aircraft.”
Why the need for a change?
Airlines in general have seen a significant uptick in the number of passengers requesting to board with service animals. By and large, these companions offer their owners relief from anxiety and other emotional issues.
American Airlines has allowed emotional support animals to board free under fairly broad provisions. While passengers were required to have proper paperwork, there were few restrictions. In fact, individuals were allowed to fill out those documents as late as in the airport at check in.
The issue of service animals on commercial jets has become complex in recent years.
American Airlines has experienced common phenomenon among domestic carriers. The number of passengers boarding with emotional support animals rose sharply last year. According to the airline, the total was 40 percent higher in 2017 than the previous year.
In addition to stricter regulations of species and paperwork, animals still allowed will have their own guidelines. American Airlines also reserves the right to ban individual animals if they exhibit "severely aggressive behavior."
Read American Airlines' entire service animal policy here. What are your thoughts on the new policy? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to share this post with any travelers in your life!
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