American Airlines Is Tightening Its Emotional Support Animal Policy, So No More Goats, Peacocks, or Amphibians
The days of the emotional support peacock are numbered. And the same goes for pigs, goats, snakes, hedgehogs and any other unusual animals people have tried to take on planes.
American Airlines announced a new policy this week regarding their emotional support animal policy. American is following other major carriers like United and Delta, which are trying to limit what they see as an unruly expansion of alleged emotional support animals.
“We support the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs for a trained service or support animal,” American Airlines said in a statement. “Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our customers and working dogs onboard our aircraft.”
There are a number of emotional and psychological conditions that are recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and emotional support animals, which are often used for treatment for conditions like depression and anxiety, aren’t going away completely. However, American reports that the number of passengers transporting a service or support animal onboard increased 40% from 2016 to 2017.
The airline met with several groups, such as American Association of People with Disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Council for the Blind and My Blind Spot to craft a stricter but overall safer policy. If you want to travel with an emotional support animal in the cabin, your companion must be able to fit at your feet, under your seat or in your lap. Sitting in an exit row with a support animal isn’t an option. Animals are no longer allowed to take up a seat (even at reduced cost), and they must not eat from tray tables or block aisles. In addition, if an animal displays behavior such as growling, biting or attempting to bite, jumping, or lunging, the animal and its owner will likely be removed from the flight.
Dogs and cats are the most accepted emotional support animals, and airlines are now cracking down on other species. American is prohibiting amphibians, goats, hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, reptiles, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders, non-household birds, animals with tusks, horns or hooves (not including miniature horses trained for service) or any animal that is unclean or has an odor.
Any traveler who wants to bring their emotional support animal with them on a flight also has to give 48 hours notice and fill out a form that requires authorization from a mental health professional.
The new policy goes into effect on July 1.