New airline rules haven’t stopped an increase in pets, including emotional-support animals

Last year, the number of pets carried by U.S. airlines (usually for a fee in the cabin or cargo hold) increased 11% to 784,000, according to Airlines for America, the industry’s lobbying organization. The number of service animals increased 24% to 281,000, according to A4A. And the number of emotional-support animals leapt 56% in that one-year period, to 751,000.

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Emotional-support animals are becoming a big problem on planes, and airlines want them to go away

According to Airlines For America — a trade group that represents major US airlines including American, United, JetBlue, Southwest, and Alaska — the number of emotional-support animals, or ESAs, traveling aboard commercial flights jumped 74%, from 481,000 in 2016 to 751,000 in 2017.

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Miniature horses are welcome as service animals, but monkeys are a maybe, according to U.S. airline regulators

Miniature horses are in, for now. But capuchin monkeys are on shakier ground.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Wednesday that it will work to make sure “the most commonly used service animals (i.e., dogs, cats, and miniature horses)” are still allowed on flights, despite increased efforts by airlines to crack down on fraudulent assistance critters of all kinds.

Reports of maulings, allergic reactions, faked medical necessity forms and other abuses have poisoned the environment for responsible travelers who legitimately need service animals. The problems have spurred major airlines, including Delta, United and Alaska, to tighten their rules for psychiatric service animals and emotional support companions.

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DOT ANPRM: Traveling by air with service animals

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT or Department) is seeking comment on amending its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on transportation of service animals. The Department has heard from the transportation industry, as well as individuals with disabilities, that the current ACAA regulation could be improved to ensure nondiscriminatory access for individuals with disabilities, while simultaneously preventing instances of fraud and ensuring consistency with other Federal regulations.

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