New rules could bump emotional-support animals from planes – By David Koenig Ap Airlines Writer / Jan 22 2020
The days of passengers bringing their pets on airplanes as emotional-support animals could be ending.
The U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday proposed that only specially trained dogs qualify as service animals, which must be allowed in the cabin at no charge.
Airlines could ban emotional-support animals including untrained dogs, cats and more exotic companions such as pigs, pheasants, rabbits and snakes.
Airlines say the number of support animals has grown dramatically in recent years. They lobbied the Transportation Department to crack down on what they consider a scam — passengers who call their pets emotional-support animals to avoid pet fees that generally run more than $100 each way.
“This is a wonderful step in the right direction for people like myself who are dependent on and reliant on legitimate service animals,” said Albert Rizzi, founder of My Blind Spot, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. He said some people “want to have the benefits of having a disability without actually losing the use of their limbs or senses just so they can take their pet with them.”
The main trade group for large U.S. airlines praised the proposal. Nicholas Calio, president of Airlines for America, said, “The proposed rule will go a long way in ensuring a safer and healthier experience for everyone.”
Flight attendants had pushed to rein in support animals, and they too were pleased.