Emotional-Support Animals Are Banned on Airplanes, But Service Dogs Can Still Fly Free

Wednesday - 17/02/2021 09:46
A new federal rule allows airlines to ban emotional-support animals, mostly because of misbehavior and pet owners skirting airline rules and fees. PHOTO: JEFFREY GREENBERG/GETTY IMAGES
A new federal rule allows airlines to ban emotional-support animals, mostly because of misbehavior and pet owners skirting airline rules and fees. PHOTO: JEFFREY GREENBERG/GETTY IMAGES
New rules allow trained service dogs, and only dogs, to fly free uncaged. For many people, flying with a pet just got more expensive.

The free ride for Fido is over.

Given a green light from the Transportation Department, airlines have banned so-called emotional-support animals from cabins, making it more complicated—and more expensive—for pets to fly with their owners.

Say goodbye to Great Danes with red “ESA” vests—or cats, ferrets, spiders and pigs, for that matter. Trained service dogs, and only dogs, are allowed to fly free uncaged, and that includes dogs trained to help with physical limitations as well as psychiatric service dogs.

Service-dog owners have to sign statements on federal forms verifying their dog’s training, health and behavior and potentially face fines for false statements. They also have to name the service-dog trainer or training organization and acknowledge the rule that if the dog barks, jumps or otherwise misbehaves it will be treated as a pet, sent to cargo and fees will be collected. Officials think the federal form will discourage cheaters.

For most air travelers, what’s left is taking a small animal in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you, or shipping your pet in a crate in the belly of the plane. The DOT estimates the change will cost travelers up to $60 million a year. A carry-on pet costs $125 each way on American, Delta and United.


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