Alaska Airlines stresses emotional support animals on flights

If you are traveling with Alaska Airlines starting in mid-January, do not plan to board the plane with a support hog or miniature horse.

Working in the wake of new federal guidelines aimed at reining in the range of sometimes exotic animals that passengers have brought on board commercial aircraft as emotional support animals, the airline kept it simple in announcing on Tuesday what it would allow: only qualified service dogs that would be able. To lie on the floor or hold it on the person’s lap.

Ray Prentice, director of customer advocacy for Alaska Airlines, which said it was the first major airline to publicly change its animal policy in light of updated federal guidelines, said the airline’s decision was a positive step.

“This organizational change is welcome news, as it will help us reduce disruptions onboard the aircraft, while continuing to accommodate our guests traveling with eligible service animals,” said Mr. Prentice. statement.

The airline said that starting January 11, it will only allow service dogs trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

A Dec. 2 ruling by the US Department of Transportation amending the Department’s Air Carrier Access Act gives airlines the power to classify emotional support animals as pets rather than service animals. Under the decision, only dogs that meet specific training criteria are allowed as service animals for people with physical, sensory, psychological, intellectual or other mental disabilities.

The new regulatory ruling has been criticized before Disability rights advocate, Who said the restrictions would weaken protections for people with disabilities by limiting the definition of a service animal. to me Formal guidance Issued by the Department of Transportation in 2019, common service animals include dogs, cats and Miniature horses.

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“ While it is no secret that we are still far from a truly accessible transportation system in this country, the DOT rule will only exacerbate the current inequalities of people with disabilities involved in air travel and will instead accommodate the airline’s interests almost exclusively. Industry, “Curt Decker, Executive Director of the National Network for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” He said in a statement this month.

Despite the criticism, airlines and others in the air travel industry, such as the lobby Airlines of America, They celebrated the recent changes, saying they would do more to reduce animal misconduct on board flights and help deter individuals who misuse the rules about service animals.

In the past, passengers have attempted to travel with a variety of animals, from the ordinary to the completely unusual, such as pigs, monkeys, and birds. (One failed attempt included a peacock.)

The Americans with Disabilities Act Miniature dogs and horses are defined as service animals “who are individually trained to do work or tasks for persons with disabilities.” By law, dogs that provide only emotional support are not classified as service animals.

A revised Alaska Airlines policy will allow a maximum of service dogs per guest and will include psychological service dogs. Passengers will also have to submit a form, developed by the Department of Transportation, that confirms that the dog is a service animal and that it has received appropriate training and vaccinations.

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