JetBlue has New Emotional Support Animal Rules, as do American Airlines and Alaska. This means that 5 major U.S. carriers have tightened ESA animal restrictions, since a new United Airlines Emotional Support Animal policy was announced in February 2018 and a new Delta Airlines Emotional Support Animal policy came out in January 2018.
The impetus behind the changes is that so many more passengers are now traveling with support animals, although in many cases these animals are pets, and the pet owners simply don't want their animals to travel in the hold, or to pay the fee to transport pets. Emotional Support Animals are free to bring on board, although there have been several incidents of untrained animals attacking passengers, including a man being mauled on a Delta flight.
Effective Date: July 1, 2018. All travel starting 7/1/18 is subject to the new policy, regardless of when travel was booked.
Permitted Animals: Dogs, cats, miniature horses only.
Maximum Support Animals: One per passenger
- Medical/Mental Health Professional Form, completed by the professional currently caring for the passenger's mental health, and who prescribed the emotional support or psychiatric service animal. Form must be completed within 1 year of the date of the initial outbound flight.
- Veterinary Health Form, completed by veterinarian attesting to the animal's vaccination records and fitness to fly
- Confirmation of Animal Behavior Form, signed by passenger affirming the support animal is trained to behave appropriately in public, and accepting all liability for any injuries or property damage caused by the animal.
After being completed, the forms must be uploaded at this link at least 48 hours prior to scheduled departure. The required documentation for ESA/Psychiatric Service Animals must also accompany the passenger when traveling and be ready to be presented upon request to JetBlue staff for review. The behavior of the animal will be assessed at the airport to ensure all safety requirements are met before approving the animal for travel.
American Airlines' New Emotional Support Animal Rules
Effective Date: Tickets issued on or after July 1, 2018.
Permitted Animals: Dogs, cats, miniature horses, household birds, and other animals that are NOT one of the following:
- Sugar gliders
- Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, & birds of prey)
- Animals with tusks, horns or hooves (excluding miniature horses properly trained as service animals)
- Any animal that is dirty / has an odor
American Airlines Emotional Support Animal Required Forms
- Mental Health Professional Form (see the AA Emotional Support Animal Packet, which includes all required forms)
- Behavior Guidelines
- Animal Sanitation During 8+ Hours Form (only required if your flight is scheduled to be over 8 hours)
You must provide the above forms at least 48 hours before your initial flight to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 817-967-4715, and keep the completed documents and the animal's veterinary health records with you at all times during the flights. If at any point AA is unable to validate your documentation or it wasn’t received at least 48 hours before your flight, the animal may need to travel as a pet in a kennel and all pet requirements and applicable fees apply.
Alaska Airlines' New Emotional Support Animal Rules
Effective Date: All tickets issued on or after May 1, 2018.
Permitted Animals: Dogs, cats, miniature horses, household birds, and animals that are NOT any of the following:
- Sugar gliders
- Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, and birds of prey)
- Animals improperly cleaned and/or foul odor
- Animals with tusks, horns, or hooves (except miniature horses that are trained to behave appropriately)
- Any unusual or exotic animals
- Animal health advisory form
- We strongly recommend guests should have a certified copy of the animal's health certificate from their veterinarian for their entire journey. Refer to Alaska's pet policy for requirements for a health certificate.
- Mental health form
- Animal behavior form
All forms must be submitted at least 48 hours prior to the initial flight, either to email@example.com or by fax to 206-392-2804.
Ultimately the airlines still are required to accept passengers with disabilities, under the Air Carrier Access Act, and the additional forms are just a way to try to dissuade some of those who are merely transporting their pets for free that it may not be worth the hassle and the liability risk to do so.
What are your thoughts on the new Emotional Support Animal Requirements of JetBlue, AA and Alaska?
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