BATON ROUGE, La. (BR Proud) — Major changes are coming for those passengers who fly major carriers with emotional support animals.
Effective Jan. 2021, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) latest rules under the Air Carrier Access Act will give airlines the right to choose whether to allow emotional support animals in the cabin area of flights.
The industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, Airlines for America, released a statement earlier this month applauding the DOT’s final rules regarding traveling by air with service animals.
The DOT’s final rules bring the definition of a service animal into alignment with the Department of Justice’s definition under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), defining a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability. This does not include emotional support animals (ESAs).Airlines for America, 12/02/20
Airlines for America’s statement highlighted the safety of its crewmembers and passengers from untrained animals on airplanes.
The DOT’s final rules will facilitate a smooth and safer travel experience for qualified individuals with a disability who need to travel with a service animal but will also prevent service animal-related fraud and abuse that has become so prevalent that it has jeopardized health and safety in the cabin, placed an unacceptable and unsustainable burden on airlines, and caused a negative stigma for legitimate service animals.Airlines for America, 12/02/20
Further guidance from the federal government states the latest rule change by DOT allows airlines to recognize emotional support animals as pets, rather than service animals.
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