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Why Alaska Airlines Banned Emotional Support Animals

Starting on January 11, Alaska Airlines will ban most emotional support animals (ESAs). The company has become the first airline to ban such animals. According to a press release from the airline, the decision was made “following changes to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rules.” Earlier this month, DOT announced that airlines must treat animals as pets, not as service animals.

Alaska Airlines is one of the first airlines to make the announcement, following DOT’s decision. They will no longer allow emotional support animals on future flights. Instead, airlines will consider ESAs as pets. The ban will take effect on Monday, January 11, according to the airline’s press release.

Alaska Airlines is the first to ban emotional support animals

Even though the ban will go into effect on January 11, Alaska Airlines will continue to allow emotional support animals under its current policy. All reservations booked prior to January 11, 2021, or for flights on or before February 28, 2021. However, the airline will no longer allow ESAs after February 28, 2021.

“Earlier this month the DOT said it will no longer require airlines to make the same accommodations for emotional support animals is required for trained service dogs,” Ray Prentice, director of customer advocacy at Alaska Airlines, said in a statement. “Changes to the DOT rules came back after 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.”

From thereon, the airline will accept DOT’s other changes. First, it will only accept trained service dogs as service animals. The airline will allow service dogs of any breed onboard its flights. But this will reduce the number of service dogs a passenger can bring onboard to two. The airline will also accept psychiatric service dogs in addition to trained canines that help those with physical impairments.

Also, Alaska Airlines will require passengers with service animals to “complete a DOT form, which will be available on beginning January 11, attesting that their animal is a legitimate service dog, is trained and vaccinated and will behave appropriately during the journey.”

The US Department of Transportation will no longer make special considerations

This ban comes just weeks after the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it will no longer require airlines to make the same accommodations for emotional support animals as service dogs. Alaska Airlines may have a good reason as to why it enacted this ban. As per Daily Mail, passengers have attempted to bring exotic animals on planes. Some of those animals include hamsters, kangaroos, pandas, peacocks, pot-bellied pigs, squirrels, turtles, and more.

The agency revised the results because passengers who would carry unusual animals on board “eroded the public trust in legitimate service animals.” It also cited that people would “fraudulently representing their pets as service animals.” This led to an increase in animal misbehavior, ranging from peeing on the carpets to biting other passengers and flight crew.

This revised policy asks passengers to check emotional support animals into the cargo hold and pay a pet fee. Or, they will have to leave them at home. The travel industry is struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. But now, airlines will earn up to $59.6 million a year in pet fees alone.

What are your thoughts on Alaska Airlines banning emotional support animals? Sound off below in the comments.

Chanel Adams

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1 Comment

  1. I have to say, it’s more frustrating keeping up with all the changes than dealing with the actual changes. I do feel for the people who have trained their animals well, but will not be able to bring them on planes in the future. If you’re like me, though, and have a hard time keeping all the regulations straight, Dogs On Planes is great about updating their blog with the latest for animal travel guidelines and tips:

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