Feds announce new rules for Emotional support animals and Service animals
Airlines are prohibited from barring emotional support animals of any breed from boarding
Under new guidelines issued by the United States Transportation Department in August of 2019, air carriers are prohibited from barring emotional support animals of any breed from boarding their flights. This effectively negates the policy Delta Airlines recently attempted to instate banning pit bulls and related dogs from its flights, even if those dogs were considered emotional support animals under law. In fact, if an airline has any policies currently in place that interfere with these new federal guidelines, such as Delta Airlines appears to have, that airline has one month to change its policies to comply with the new guidelines.
Air carriers are still permitted under federal law to evaluate the safety of an animal to travel on their planes on a case-by-case basis regardless of emotional support animals status. Air carriers are also permitted to require passengers traveling with an emotional support animal to check in at the airport lobby check-in station rather than checking in online, as this enables the appropriate officials to assess the animal for potential health or safety concerns to other passengers.
The US DOT is also in the process of developing new guidelines for traveling with service animals, which are distinct from emotional support animals in that they are specially trained to perform specialized tasks for the person with whom they are traveling.
These new federal guidelines for traveling with emotional support animals only apply to dogs, cats and miniature horses who are emotional support animals. The DOT has stated it will not attempt to interfere with airline policies that may prevent other types of animals from traveling on flights, even if they have legitimate legal status as emotional support animals.
Airlines Support efforts to establish verification for ESA
Airlines for the most part support these new guidelines as they believe it will help to cut down on fraudulent claims of an emotional support animal for travel. Many websites have taken advantage of the permissibility of emotional support animals for travel by creating false credentials people can buy to allegedly register their animal as an emotional support animal. There is, however, no such thing as registration of emotional support animals. All that’s needed is the proper licensed medical practitioner’s letter. An online registration certificate is neither necessary nor valid.
However, the proliferation of these fraudulent credentials in the marketplace has made it much more difficult for airlines to regulate what they allow on board their flights and what they prohibit. As such, many animals who are not emotional support animals are being brought onto flights by people with no disability or medical need and, in cases, causing harm or damage to other passengers or property. Airlines believe the new clarity federal guidelines provide around traveling with an emotional support animal should significantly cut down on these instances of fraud and their potentially damaging consequences. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, a flight attendants’ union, has even come out in favor of the new guidelines for the very same reason of preventing so many animals that shouldn’t be allowed on board from coming on board flights and potentially causing problems.
Your ESA letter from us is always backed up by a doctor and has 24/7 verification system.
On Wednesday, January 22, 2020, the United States Department of Transportation proposed new rules regarding service animals and emotional support animals on planes. Among these changes are that the Department of Transportation would no longer require airlines to accommodate air travelers with emotional support animals.
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