Traveling with Animals in Aviation

In recent years, there has been an exponential increase of people claiming the need for emotional support animals in the cabin. This causes safety hazards and increased conflict onboard. Flight Attendants and passengers have been bitten, attacked, and inconvenienced by animals who are not properly trained to be in a confined public environment. This interferes with the rights of our veterans and people with disabilities who legitimately need these animals to travel.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) should, without delay, issue clear guidance on emotional support animals to standardize practices across the industry.

Department of Transportation ACCESS Advisory Committee

AFA participated in the DOT Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee) in 2016 working on several issues, including service and emotional support animals.

The ACCESS Committee was established to negotiate and develop a proposed rule concerning accommodations for air travelers with disabilities addressing in-flight communications, accessible lavatory on new single-aisle aircraft, and service animals. The committee reached agreement on in-flight communications and accessible bathrooms on single-aisle aircrafts. However, the Committee was not able to reach agreement on service animals. In May 2018, the DOT issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking ("ANPRM") on service animals. 

Airlines Take Action

In 2018, without action from the DOT, airlines began revising emotional support animal policies. 

Delta Air Lines announced increased requirements for emotional support animals in January, detailing an 84% increase in reported animal incidents since 2016. AFA Statement >

United Airlines announced a new policy that increases requirements for emotional support animals, following a 75 percent year-over-year increase in emotional support animals onboard the airline's flights. AFA Statement >

American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue Airways have all announced new policies for emotional support animals. 

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