American Airlines Bans Emotional Support Animals
American Airlines is the latest domestic carrier to announce a ban on emotional support animals. The move is will force most owners to pay for their pets if they want to bring them along in an American Airlines flight. These fees could generate as much as $60 million a year for the airline.
American Airlines said Tuesday that it will allow animals in the cabin free of charge only if they are trained service dogs. The change takes effect Monday, but passengers who already bought tickets can fly with an emotional support animal until Feb. 1. After that, animals that are not trained service dogs, will only be able to fly in the cargo hold or a kennel that fits under a seat in the cabin. Either way, American Airlines will charge a pet fee that starts at $125 but can go as high as several hundred dollars.
Alaska Airlines was first to announce a ban on emotional support animals, after a new Department of Transportation regulation that says airlines aren’t required to treat emotional support animals as service animals. The federal government reversed the policy that had previously allowed a wide range of animals aboard flights while claiming they were there for emotional support.
The number of passengers flying with companion animals grew rapidly in recent years. Passengers only needed a note from a health professional to prove they needed their emotional support animal.
Now most domestic carriers have already altered their rules. United Airlines requires its passengers to pay a $125 fee each way for emotional support animals and Southwest Airlines charges $95 each way. Delta won’t allow any emotional support pets on flights longer than eight hours. Any animals under the age of four months are also not allowed regardless of the length of flight.