Flight Attendants Applaud DOT's Clear Rule on Animals in the Cabin

Washington, DC (January 22, 2019) — The Department of Transportation today released a notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks to amend the definition of a service animal in air transportation and includes safeguard to ensure safety and limit fraud. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson issued the following statement:

“Today’s proposed rule by the Department of Transportation for service animals in the passenger cabin is welcome news. It sets clear definitions and guidance to ensure people with disabilities and our veterans have necessary service animal assistance while maintaining the safety, health and security of all passengers and crew onboard our planes.

"Passengers claiming pets as emotional support animals has threatened the safety and health of passengers and crews in recent years while this practice skyrocketed. Untrained pets should never roam free in the aircraft cabin. Flight Attendants have been hurt and safety has been compromised by untrained animals loose in the cabin.

"The days of Noah’s Ark in the air are hopefully coming to an end. Passengers can still travel with animals under their preferred carrier’s pet program.

"The Association of Flight Attendants, representing 50,000 Flight Attendants at 20 airlines, will work to ensure this rule becomes final."

In summary, the proposed rule seeks to:

  • Aligns DOT service animal definitions with DOJ
  • Free carriers from recognizing emotional support animals as service animals.
  • Rather, may be treated as pets, service animal definition may be limited to trained dogs
  • Carriers can require a health form as a condition of transportation
  • Carriers can require a complete behavior and training attestation as a condition of transport
  • Carriers can limit the number of service animals to two service animals
  • Service animals have to fit within the handler’s foot space
  • Carriers can’t discriminate based on breed


The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO represents 50,000 Flight Attendants at 20 airlines. AFA is the union that has advanced the Flight Attendant profession for 74 years, beating back discrimination and improving wages, benefits, working conditions, and aviation safety, health and security in the aircraft cabin. AFA also partners with the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.

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