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Airline Travel

Following Federal Policy Update, Airlines Ban Emotional Support Animals

Air carriers in the United States are announcing changes to policies and procedures for travel with emotional support animals and service animals, aligning with regulations recently issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

In December, the DOT announced it would no longer require airlines to make the same accommodations for emotional support animals as is required for trained service dogs. These changes are the result of feedback from the airline industry and disability community regarding numerous instances of emotional support animal misbehavior which caused injuries, health hazards, and damage to aircraft cabins. The DOT’s new rule defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability.

American, Alaska, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, and United have all made announcements regarding the new policies. Starting today, January 11, 2021, passengers traveling with service animals are required to complete a DOT form attesting to the dog’s behavior, training, and health. Airlines will require this form to be submitted electronically 48 hours in advance of a flight unless the reservation is booked within 48 hours of travel. Within 48 hours of departure, the form must be submitted to an airline agent before departure.

Each airline has defined the details of the new rules and their application to current and new reservations made with each respective carrier.

Alaska Air
Effective today, Alaska will only transport service dogs, which are specially trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability. Alaska will continue to accept emotional support animals under its current policy for reservations booked prior to January 11, 2021, for flights on or before February 28, 2021. No emotional support animals will be accepted for travel after February 28, 2021.

For more information about travel with pets, visit AlaskaAir.com.

American Airlines
As of today, American will no longer authorize new travel for animals that do not meet that definition, such as emotional support animals. Existing bookings involving emotional support animals will be honored through February 1, 2021. Additional information on American’s updated service animal policy can be found at AA.com.

Delta Airlines
Delta’s updated policy includes input and guidance from our frontline teams, as well as recommendations from Delta’s Advisory Board on Disability. With the updated service animal policy changes effective January 11, 2021, Delta will no longer accept new bookings for emotional support animals.

More information on Delta’s updated service animal policy is available on Delta.com.

Frontier Airlines
For all reservations booked on or after January 11, 2021 and for all flights departing on or after February 1, 2021, Frontier will only transport service dogs specifically trained to support a qualified individual with a disability. For service animals booked prior to January 11, 2021, for travel through January 31, 2021, Frontier will transport dogs, cats, and miniature horses that have received training (including as a psychiatric service animal) to assist a qualified individual with a disability.

Full details on Frontier Airlines’ new Service Animal Policy may be found here along with the required forms for travel.

JetBlue
Only cats and dogs are accepted for transport under JetBlue’s pet policy. Passengers may book their pet online at jetblue.com or by contacting JetBlue. JetPaws is JetBlue’s exclusive program designed to provide pets and their owners the tips and tools they need for a smooth trip from start to finish. For complete details, visit JetBlue.com.

Spirit Airlines
Spirit outlines details about pets onboard Spirit flights and information on the new service animal requirements.

United Airlines
United will continue to transport emotional support animals for reservations purchased before January 11, 2021, for travel on or before February 28, 2021, as long as all appropriate paperwork was submitted to United by January 10, 2021. No emotional support animals will be transported after February 28, 2021. 

United will require DOT forms for each service animal traveling with a customer beginning February 1, 2021. For United’s updated policy, visit United.com.

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