American Airlines expands list of banned emotional support animals

American Airlines expands list of banned emotional support animals

Fed up with the menagerie of "support animals" brought on to its flights, American Airlines has introduced rules specifying which beasts are permissible flying companions. "Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our customers, and working dogs onboard our aircraft", the airlines said in a statement. Miniature horses, meanwhile, remain okay, so long as they're properly trained as service animals.

American Airlines said it met with a number of disability groups including American Association of People with Disabilities and Paralyzed Veterans of America to get their input before changing its animal policy. Federal regulations allow passengers to bring their therapy pets into the cabin, as long as there is documentation from a licensed mental health professional testifying to the passenger's need.

"Only one emotional support animal may be held on the lap of a guest with the disability, provided that the animal is no larger than a two-year-old child", the airliner says.

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The airline says insects, goats, and hedgehogs are just some of the animals that can not travel as comfort animals. But the animals, like service animals for the blind and others who are physically disabled, fly in the cabin for free, instead of being stowed and costing a fee of about $125 on most airlines, which may explain their massive popularity.

Albert Rizzi, the organization's founder, who is legally blind, stressed in an American Airlines employee podcast on Monday that the changes being made by the airline will not affect those who rely on trained service animals. Owners must also vouch for the animal and that it won't have disruptive behavior such as growling or lunging at fellow travelers. This includes not only insects, goats and hedgehogs, but also ferrets, spiders, and non-household birds, like chickens and hawks. The carrier issued new guidelines Tuesday, clamping down on the types of service animals and therapy pets it will permit in the cabin, clarifying a previous policy that allowed passengers to board with any animal, from a pig to a peacock.

Both of the Canadian carriers say their require 48 hours advance notice and supporting documentation for flying with an emotional support animal.

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