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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Southwest latest airline to restrict service, emotional support animals

For service animals, Southwest says it will accept “only the most common service animals — dogs, cats, and miniature horses.”

“For the health and safety of our customers and Employees, unusual or exotic animals will not be accepted,” the airline added in its statement.

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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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