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.
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.