14 December 2020
Last week, the Department of Transportation modified the rules of the Air Carriers Act so that “emotional support” animals will no longer be permitted to fly for free, and only “service animals” will be allowed aboard.
Martin Orlick, Chair of JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group, has written an article giving some context to this decision and outlining what animals will be allowed to join passengers on commercial flights. Hotel owners should be aware that while this rule change only applies to airlines, they do not have to permit emotional support animals on their property.
Emotional Support Animals Now Banned
on Commercial Flights
Airlines are Crying “Woof”
Martin Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group
News accounts abound of passengers bringing a variety of so-called “emotional support” animals aboard commercial air flights. Who hasn’t seen a cute, expensive dog, cat or other animals on flights? And we have also heard about passengers bringing along cats, turkeys, lizards and emotional support snakes aboard commercial flights. Well, the days of flying pets for free are over, according to new federal rules.
Last week, the Department of Transportation (DOT) adopted new rules that only specially trained dogs can assist passengers with physical or psychiatric disabilities on commercial flights. This rule comes after years of abuse by passengers who want to have their pets fly free.
Under the Air Carriers Act, passengers could bring their “emotional support” animals aboard commercial flights. All the passenger needed was a note from a friendly doctor or therapist stating that the passenger required the animal for emotional support in flight. For $175, anyone can go online and fill out a check-the-box questionnaire and receive a letter from a doctor or therapist stating that the passenger needs the company of an emotional support animal to fly safely. With such a note, pets could fly free of charge. For another $75 one can buy an “official” looking dog vest and emblem, purporting to be an emotional support animal certification on eBay. But such “notes” and indicia are meaningless, as there is no legitimate certification for emotional support animals. CONTINUE READING →