MORE AND MORE PEOPLE are traveling with pets they say are necessary for emotional support on planes, particularly if they are anxious passengers. But some pet owners are gaming the system just so that their pets can travel with them for free.
To that effect, some animals have been added to the banned list as airlines continue to turn down requests. Hedgehogs included.
Asia’s animal cafes: sip coffee with alpacas, eat cake with hedgehogs
Emotional support animals (ESA) can help people who are suffering from anxiety and other emotional disorders.
In the US, the federal regulations allow animals (dogs, cats, miniature horses) to travel on airplanes in the cabin with their owners for free if the owner has proper documentation, which means a letter from a doctor or other mental health professional. The airlines are allowed to ask people traveling with emotional support animals for that documentation, but they are not required to.
While most #airlines are trying to cut down on #horseplay, @SpiritAirlines welcomes it. This is absolutely ridiculous!! #ESAofTheDay #Horse pic.twitter.com/m7jFahF1Bu
— Eric (@GoldboxATL) April 27, 2017
Disabled passengers often bring their service or guide dogs on board when they travel. Service and guide dogs are considered working dogs as they have been bred and highly trained specifically to do work or tasks for their disabled owners. And in most cases, a kennel is not required for these dogs as they are fully trained.
However, some passengers have been claiming various emotional and psychiatric problems (sleep disorder, anxiety, stress) in order to get their personal, everyday pets on flights. This results in adverse consequences as travelers with legitimate needs for ESAs are unable to bring their animals on board due to the lack of space.
On top of that, some of those pets are not the average variety of ESA one would expect.
Update. Here’s myself and the #ESAofTheDay pic.twitter.com/izZvqRHfTR
— Shaq (@ShaquilleAKhan) March 9, 2017
Last month, United Airlines banned a female passenger from taking a large “emotional support peacock” on board. The passenger even offered to buy the feathery giant, reportedly named Dexter, its own plane ticket. But airline refused due to weight and size guidelines.
Also, with the increase of ESAs (United Airlines’ requests have risen by 75 percent in a year), airline passengers and workers are getting worried as there have been incidents of poorly behaved ESAs. Delta, which has received requests to carry “comfort turkeys”, possums and snakes, says staff have faced biting, growling and barking animals, as well as urination and defecation.
I've got an #ESAoftheday for @GoldboxATL pic.twitter.com/7vmIkxccqZ
— Paul Thompson (@FlyingPhotog) August 4, 2017
To clamp down on future board animal “incidents”, United Airlines will be keeping a list of banned animals under review and this includes hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, reptiles and “non-household birds”.
Delta will also be stepping up efforts to protect its passengers after an 84 percent increase in incidents, citing “serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight”.
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