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No free travel for Emotional Support Animals on US flights

Johanna Koyser
03.12.2020
2 minutes

Flying with animals is a topic that is particularly important for pet owners. We at WingMag have also already looked at the individual regulations in detail in this report. Broken down, the rule is that pets are only allowed to travel in the passenger cabin up to a certain size. If they are too large, they have to fly in a transport box in the designated cargo area. But in the United States, there was a special exception: Emotional Support Animals.

Emotional Support Animals must be distinguished from Service Animals. The latter include guide dogs, for example, which are of enormous importance to their owners. They are also allowed in most European passenger cabins, no matter their size. In contrast, Emotional Support Animals, as the name suggests, are animals that are intended to provide emotional support for their owner during the flight. Up to now, these animals have travelled free of charge in the aircraft cabin on presentation of an appropriate certificate. However, there have been more and more cases of animals being mistakenly declared as Emotional Support Animals. The US Department of Transportation is now putting a stop to this abuse. In future, only dogs that have completed training as Service Animals will be allowed on board free of charge.

The legal regulation on free flights for Emotional Support Animals has been in place since 2003. The fact that this has now been corrected means that many airlines have less need for discussion. After all, there were curious cases under the now outdated regulation in which, for example, a passenger wanted to take a peacock on board for emotional support.

Picture © Artem Labunsky

by Johanna Koyser

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