Travelling can be stressful, especially if you have a mental health illness or have a fear of flying (aviophobia or aerophobia we cant figure out the phobia name)… well if you are travelling to the US or are taking an internal flight in the US you might want to double-check if your Emotional Support Animal is able to accompany you… The US Transportation Department is tightening rules on “emotional support animals” after a series of high-flying (terrible pun, I know) incidents onboard flights.
Department of Transport has said that it no longer considers animal companions used by travellers on commercial flights for emotional support as “service animals”. Which essentially means airlines can ban them outright.
The new definition of a service animal is:
“a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability,”
This definition was issued following a bunch of complaints from airlines and flight crew about people bringing unusual animals — including birds, turtles, hamsters and pigs, even some cold-blooded animals onboard that passengers claimed were for emotional support.
Now we can all appreciate if someone has a legitimate need for an emotional support animal… I just don’t know how happy I would be if the person beside me had a Boa constrictor as a support animal… 🐍
The final rule will go into effect 30 days (Jan 1st 2020) after it is published in the Federal Register. So what does that mean for you? Firstly when travelling with an animal make sure you contact your airline in advance and give them all the information, any decisions that are agreed, try to get them in an email as you don’t want any surprises at the airport.