Ask the Captain: Will airlines ever adopt common-sense rules on emotional support animals?

Calling a family pet an emotional support animal is rife for abuse. If you need a support animal or blanket to feel secure while flying, it might be time to consider the train. How can we get the airlines and Congress to come up with common-sense rules?

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American Airlines ESA

American Airlines flight attendant bitten by emotional support dog, requires five stitches

The DOT (Department of Transportation) sought comments from travelers in 2018 and was flooded with replies, but so far no action has been taken.

“We need the (U.S.) Department of Transportation to take action now, so events like the one that happened yesterday do not continue to occur on our planes,” the statement said. “This is fundamentally about maintaining safety, health and security for passengers and crew, while ensuring accessibility for those who need it.”

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Senate Bill S.2738: Air carrier passengers with service animals to adhere to a standard of service animal training

This bill requires the Department of Transportation to establish a standard of service animal behavior training that an individual with a disability shall adhere to in seeking accommodation involving a service animal from an air carrier, including any foreign air carrier, providing air transportation. Any individual who knowingly and willfully makes a false statement to obtain an accommodation involving a service animal from an air carrier is subject to specified criminal penalties.

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Senate bill introduced to strengthen airline service animal procedures, eliminate emotional support animals on planes

Senator Richard Burr introduced legislation to align the definition of a “service animal” under the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) with the definition under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), establish a criminal penalty for making misrepresentations about a service animal, and require federal agencies to establish a standard of service animal behavior training for animals who will be working on an aircraft.

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