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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Airports join airlines in tightening the leash on animal travel

As had been widely reported, airlines have seen a sharp rise in the number of animals traveling on planes. Some are ticketed pets, but many are pets that have been flying for free thanks to loopholes in rules governing the transport of emotional or psychiatric support animals.

American Airlines reported a 40 percent increase in the number of service and emotional support animals on flights between 2016 and 2017. United Airlines cited a 75 percent increase year over year.

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JetBlue’s new emotional support animal rules: only dogs, cats and mini horses, and more documenation

Starting July 1, JetBlue will require passengers traveling with such animals to notify the airline 48 hours in advance and provide a medical or mental health form from the doctor who prescribes the animal and another from a veterinarian stating the animal’s “fitness to fly” and vaccination records.

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