Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

American Airlines restricts emotional support animals on flights

American Airlines restricts emotional support animals on flights

That could put Burr at odds with mental health advocates who see emotional support animals as a crucial part of treatment for some people with mental disabilities. The airlines said aggressive animals prompted them to rethink their policies. United reports that the number of support animals on flights increased 77 percent in 2017.

Emotional support animals provide comfort to those suffering from emotional or psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression and panic attacks. But the airline said it will be stricter about contacting these professionals well in advance of flights, in order to verify their notes. Passengers were previously allowed to provide the documents the day of their flight. Other airlines, like United and Delta, have also updated their animal policies in recent months.

Last June, a man said he required 28 stitches to his face after being mauled by an emotional support dog on a Delta Air Lines flight in Atlanta.

Additionally, American Airlines now says that some animals are off limits entirely because they pose a safety or public health risk. Unclean animals, or animals with an odor, are banned, too.

Furthermore, the airline said it would no longer allow non-household birds such as farm poultry, waterfowl or game birds (no birds of prey?), as well as animals with tusks, horns or hooves on flights - although apparently miniature horses that have been properly trained as service animals will still be tolerated. From July 1 passengers will not be able to board with amphibians, ferrets, goats, hedgehogs, insects, reptiles or rodents.

Last year, more than 750,000 emotional support animals were transported by US carriers, The Dallas Morning News reports. American will have procedures in place for emergency travel booked within 48 hours of departure, the carrier stated.

"We support the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs for a trained service or support animal", American Airlines (AA) said in a statement announcing the change.

Any emotional support animal that growls, bites, jumps or lunges at people will be considered a pet, and pet fees and requirements will apply, the airline said.

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