Alaska Airlines has become the first major airline within the United States to announce that emotional support animals are prohibited from entering the passenger cabin. This comes after the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) adopted a new stance on the matter earlier this December.
One of the main changes in DOT’s position is that emotional support animals will no longer be classified as service animals. That means that they will be treated like a pet and now the airlines have the option of being able to charge an extra fee for their transport or prevent them from entering the passenger cabin.
Alaska Airlines announced that it will no longer accept emotional support animals on its flights, this measure will take effect as of January 11, 2021. Now the airline will only transport service dogs that are trained to perform these tasks for the benefit of a qualified person with a disability.
Many people welcomed this new position on the part of DOT, since in many flights there were problems on board due to the bad behavior of these animals. Authorities indicated that some passengers even registered their pets as “emotional support animals” simply to be able to fly with them inside the cabin.
Currently there is a legal loophole that can be used by people to their advantage, because although emotional support animals are prohibited, psychiatric service animals are still allowed inside the cabins of airplanes. And it is for this reason that a great decrease in the number of travelers with animals inside the cabin is not expected.
DOT defines mentions that psychiatric service animals should be treated the same as other service animals, but that they should be individually trained for their job or to perform a task for the benefit of a qualified person with a disability. Also, these animals will not need special training.