Airlines Tighten Leash on Emotional Support Animals

peacockIn response to a New York artist’s failed attempt to pass off her pet peacock (Dexter) as an emotional support animal on a recent United Airlines flight, the airline responded by tightening their emotional support animal policies beginning on March 1, 2018.

According to the airline, “Beginning March 1, 2018, United will require additional documentation for customers traveling with an emotional support animal. Currently, customers must provide 48 hours’ notice to the Accessibility Desk and a letter from a licensed medical/mental health professional. For travel on or after March 1, customers will need to also provide a veterinary health form documenting the health and vaccination records for the animal as well as confirming that the animal has appropriate behavioral training.”

This new policy is much like the one that Delta Airlines recently announced, which also takes effect on March 1, 2018.

I totally support both airlines decision to crack down on this epidemic of fake emotional support animals. It should also be noted that United also verifies the doctor’s statement from the mental health professional, so the card-mill “fake ESA letters” that you can buy for $99 (or less) on the internet will no longer be valid. Only letters from a mental health professional who is currently treating you. Period.

Oh, and if they don’t have everything documented and verified before the flight, the animal will travel as a pet, in a kennel and the passenger will be charged the appropriate pet fee.

And that’s the way it should be.

Hopefully other airlines will follow suit, but for now if you don’t want to be bothered with someone’s emotional support pig, turkey or snake, then fly on Delta or United.

And just a FYI for anyone who is planning to try and take an exotic emotional support animal aboard, the Air Carrier Access Act specifically prohibits snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents and spiders from being service (or emotional support) animals. And as far as large or exotic animals such as miniature horses, pigs, monkeys and now peacocks, the airline has the right to refuse service animal status if the animal is too large or heavy to be safely transported in the cabin.

And that’s exactly what United did with Dexter, and apparently will continue to do in the future.

And again, I say three cheers to them!!