First Animal Rejected Under American’s New Emotional Support Guidelines

At the beginning of the year Delta and then United announced new guidelines meant to restrict passengers from bringing on unnecessary emotional support animals who behave badly onboard.

This week American announced their own new policy which seems to go even farther.

  • Animals have to fit under seat, at feet, or on lap No one with an emotional support animal can sit in an exit row.

  • No blocking of aisles, occupying a seat or eating from tray tables

  • Must leash and control the animal at all times. Animals who growl, attempt to bit, or lunge at people will be treated as pets “and all pet requirements and applicable fees will apply.” I’m not sure that this will be enforced except in the most egregious cases.

  • 48 hours advance notice although last minute travel can be booked inside this period with an emotional support animal.

  • Must have a form completed by a licensed mental health professional or a letter from the professional dated within a year of travel.

    The letter has to state there’s “a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and are currently a patient” as well as “[s]how the need for emotional support or psychiatric service animal for air travel and /or activity at your destination” and “[p]rovide proof of their licensing as a mental health professional or medical doctor (including date, type and state of license).”

  • There’s also a behavioral guidelines form and an ‘animal sanitation form’ for 8+ hour flights where you have to say the animal won’t need to relieve itself during long haul travel.

In addition these animals are banned as support animals:

Amphibians Reptiles Sugar gliders
Ferrets Rodents Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, & birds of prey)
Goats Snakes Animals with tusks, horns or hooves (excluding miniature horses properly trained as service animals)
Hedgehogs Spiders Any animal that is unclean / has an odor

These new rules were supposed to apply only to tickets purchased July 1 or after. However it appears that two passengers have already had an emotional support animal rejected by American… a dinosaur.

(HT: Michelle L.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Why was the dinosaur banned before the rules came into force? Too smelly?

    BTW, birds are the living remnants of dinosaurs, anyway.

  2. I’m SOOOO over the whole emotional support CRAP! Sure you like to cuddle up to your pet, but if you are in such bad emotional condition, that you have to bring a cat, dog, snake, whatever…which actually requires feeding and care, you don’t need to travel by plane. It is ridiculous, take a Zanax and go to sleep like everyone else who gets nervous when they fly!

  3. I have an emotional support animal and if it wasn’t for having her by my side life for me would consist of not even going outside of my house. The person who commented saying to take zanax…. just exactly how many different pills do you take daily? Or how stressed are you on a daily basis? Do you drown your everyday issues with alcohol or illegal drugs? Well, some of us don’t want to fill our bodies with that toxic waste just to have it alter our behavior and state of mind. Unless you have a perfect life, have no fears, have the perfect house with the perfect spouse and perfect kids with the perfect job and have never been divorced or had to struggle to pay the bills….. I suggest you get your head out of other peoples busines and shut your mouth. I’ll bet you’re one of those people who say bad things about people behind their backs or make fun of heavy people you see walking in the mall. You downgrade others just to make yourself feel like you are better than they are. Newsflash… get yourself some education on different types of disorders that may require the assistance of an ESA. ESA’s aren’t just pets, they are in fact working from the moment their handlers wake up till the moment they go to bed.
    Don’t be so quick to judge. You may need help someday. Whether it be from a human or animal makes no difference.

  4. ESA ha ha I saw one at Home Depot this weekend. Really? Saw one at the mall on a leash shopping at Zales for her diamond ear rings? We have seen 3 of them with one person in an Admirals lounge.

    ESA Handeler if you can not deal with life with out a ESA that is your issue not mine. Your medical / mental issues are not my issues and should not be forced on me to deal with. My education tells me that your ESA / pet should not be forced upon me.

    Americans are in a society were we think need to make allowances for EVERYTHING. Every kid today needs to get an award just for entering a competition, there is no 1st …3rd place but EVERYONE gets a ribbon. We are in a ME ME ME society. Try living in Europe where everyone is treated the same. There are no special allowances or special preferences given like in the USA. If you are afraid of flying drive a car, take a train or cruise to Europe. There are alternatives. There have also been alternatives before ESA and the world did not fall apart. Just realize that your ESA is invading my space .taking a dump and urinating, barking, biting, etc.

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