Alaska Airlines is the first American airline to put a stop to emotional-support animals (ESAs) on commercial flights. This decision comes in the wake of the Dec. 2nd ruling by the U.S Department of Transport (DOT) on ESAs.
Under federal law, passengers can travel with service animals on commercial flights. However, with the revision of the Air Carrier Access Act, ESAs cannot be classified as service animals any longer. It now defines such an animal as a dog that is individually trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability.
Prior to the revised Act, passengers had been pushing airlines limits by travelling with a variety of ESAs such as a pony, turkey, kangaroo, an alligator, and even one failed attempt of boarding with a peacock. Some of these animals caused disruptions and increased airline liabilities.
According to a news release on Tuesday, from Jan. 11th, Alaska Airlines will only allow service dogs. It will allow ESAs for bookings done prior to Jan 11th up to Feb 28th. Beyond Feb 28th, no emotional support animals will be allowed. Under the policy, the airline will allow each passenger to have a maximum of two service dogs. These passengers must fill a DOT form found on the airline’s website to confirm each service dog’s training and vaccination status. They will also need to confirm that the dog will behave well during the flight.