Trained Service Dogs Only

January 8, 2021

In 2020, we shared the news that all emotional support animals, with the exception of dogs, would no longer be allowed on airplanes. Yes, that meant that your emotional support snake, turtle, peacock, and other two- and four-legged support friends would have to wave goodbye to you from airport security, because that’s as far as they’d be able to go. Why was this rule enacted in the first place? Well, it seems like passengers have been taking their pets on airplanes and calling them emotional support animals to justify it, which has in turn caused a lot of issues with fellow passengers and airline staff. That’s why the Department of Transportation stepped in and tried to put a stop to it by enacting a rule that would only allow emotional support dogs on planes.

Tomás Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Well, one airline is taking the rule one step further. Alaska Airlines announced that it will no longer allow any emotional support animals on its airplanes. The only animals allowed? According to the airline, it will “only transport service dogs, which are specifically trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability.” It’s a bold statement, but Alaska Airlines says that it is instituting this rule so it can provide better service to passengers, including those with trained service animals. Alaska was the first to make this announcement, and American Airlines soon followed suit.

Should emotional support animals be allowed on airplanes and how would you define what an emotional support animal is?