Taking a pet on board a plane has some rules and Federal regulations have broad protections for the disabled and their service animals.
“Under transportation law: ‘Carriers shall permit a service animal to accompany a qualified individual with disability in any seat in which the person sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed in order to facilitate an emergency evacuation,'” reports The Wall Street Journal.
Thanks to anti-discrimination laws, though, ADA-certified animals aren’t the only animals that can come along for a ride in the sky.
“Classifying animals as an emotional support animal has long been permitted under anti-discrimination laws, allowing owners to take them into restaurants and shops or to residential buildings that have no-pet policies. To demonstrate the need for an emotional support animal, the animal’s owner needs a letter from a mental health professional,” reports NewsTelegram.com. Individuals approved to be accompanied by an emotional support animal are eligible under criteria set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.
Emotional support animals travel free, do not require cages, require no training, and it’s in the airline’s hands as to what size and species they restrict from their flights.
Some see the increase in emotional support animals as a nuisance due to overcrowding but others see it as a blessing due to the beneficial mental aspects their furry flight companions give them.
Unfortunately, planes have become overcrowded with owners who try to pass off their uncaged animals as emotional support or service dogs. With the increase, it has become a little more difficult and uncomfortable for some flight attendants to double check if passenger pets are flight approved, as some do not want to violate the law. The Department of Transportation also does not require airlines to keep data on emotional support animals.
JetBlue, who does record emotional support animals, expects about 20,000 animals to come on board this year.
So the next time you’re preparing for a flight, don’t take advantage of the system to get your pooch pal on board. If needed, seek professional assistance in obtaining a doctor approved letter to assure a comfortable ride with your furry friend.
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