Alaska Airlines Updates Policy On Emotional Support Animals (Again)

Filed Under: Alaska

This year we’ve seen major US airlines crack down on emotional support animals. The first airline to do this was Delta, as they announced changes in January that kicked in for travel as of March.

Since then, other airlines have followed suit, as UnitedAlaskaAmerican, and Southwest, all added restrictions on emotional support animals as well. Airlines have seen a huge spike in the number of passengers traveling with emotional support animals, so they’ve been trying to lower those numbers.

Alaska Airlines already announced new restrictions on emotional support animals in April, and now they’re adding yet another round of restrictions.

Alaska Airlines updates emotional support animal policy

Alaska Airlines is changing their policy once again for emotional support animals as of October 1, 2018.

As of that date, Alaska Airlines will add further restrictions for emotional support animals (this is based on travel date and not booking date). Guests traveling with emotional support animals:

  • May bring only one emotional support animal on the flight.
  • Emotional support animals will be limited to either a dog or cat.  No other species of animal will be permitted.
  • For the safety of other passengers, all emotional support animals must be in a carrier or leashed at all times.
  • Must provide appropriate documentation and 48-hours advance notice, per our existing policy.

Alaska also updating service animal policy

In addition to updating their policy on emotional support animals, Alaska is also updating their policy on traveling with service animals:

  • Service animals (now includes psychiatric service animals) will be limited to either a dog, cat or miniature horse
  • Service animals must be under the control of their owner at all times.
  • Alaska Airlines accepts fully trained psychiatric service animals as trained service animals—no documentation is required for service animals.

Bottom line

Airlines are really starting to add restrictions on traveling with emotional support animals this year. It’s especially interesting to now see airlines add restrictions for the second time within a year.

None of this will prevent people from taking advantage of ESA loopholes, though the goal is that it at least minimizes it, both in terms of requiring documentation, and in terms of limiting the type and number of animals that can be brought onboard.

So assuming you travel with an emotional support dog or cat, this update shouldn’t mean all that much.

  1. Can miniature horses be house trained? Regular sized horses make quite a smell when they have to go. Wouldn’t want to be in 5A with a miniature horse in 5B!

  2. One emotional animal per trip? Decisions, decisions – should I take my emotional support bobcat , wildcat, polecat or meerkat?

  3. Just start chatting all emotional support animals the same fee one charges for regular animals and thus problem will disappear

    Where is it written that an ESA must be allowed on a plane for free?

  4. I am not sure if this is an American thing but I sure do find this “Emotional Support Animal” thing very bizarre. I don’t believe its some we have here in the UK or Europe or any other part of the world that I am aware of…

  5. Charge for emotional support animals to ride on a plane, they have no protections under ADA . Consider customers who pay for a seat and do not want to sit next to someone’s untrained pet.
    Emotional support is code for scam the businesses that are afraid to challenge these selfish, entitled, cheats.
    Enforce the laws in over 20 states that fine cheats for faking service dogs

  6. Whoever decided that a miniature horse would or could be an emotional support animal? Here’s what Google says about them:…0.0..0.0.0…….0……gws-wiz.TbEGZ2RzAFk

    Their weight can vary from 150-350 pounds. Are you kidding me? Seems to me you’d have to buy them a seat for sure. Where else would they fit?
    I agree with niko_jas and JRMW. All support animals should be charged at the same rate as regular animals, period!

  7. What, no support salmon allowed onboard Alaska Airlines flights? I thought Alaska does extra flights just for this scaly sea citizens.

  8. vlcnc – The entire world has them, they’re called pets.

    Some people rely on them more than others, and authorities (or crazy PC liberal elites depending on your worldview) are becoming more and more aware of the damaging and often hidden impact of mental illness on people so are increasingly trying to mitigate that with policies like this.

    As you’ll see with the comments on here though, most people couldn’t care less about anyone apart from themselves so won’t even attempt to empathise with those less fortunate than themselves, generally hidden as fake concern that people abuse the rules. While many clearly do, someone sneaking a dog on a plane seems like a reasonable price to pay to allow those under severe stress to be able to travel.

    Then again I’m a crazy liberal do-gooder snowflake with insane ideals like “it’s preferable for people to be happy and healthy”, so what do I know?

  9. Such BS!
    Anyone can get a certificate for emotional support animal on the internet for next to nothing.
    Provide that to an airline, and bingo,
    Your little precious flys for Free!

    What about my emotional support grandparent!

    Good grief,will it never end!

  10. Thanks lucky for the great website and the coverage of the so called “emotional support animals”.

    IMHO the sudden appearance of these type of animals is a consequence of the step-by-step more reckless behavior of pet owners.

    Regardless if it is the use of flex-lines and therefore occupying the manyfold “space” of a petless pedestrian in the pedestrian zone or the entitlement feeling in public transport like aircrafts:

    The cognition of the pet owners seems to be slighltl restricted and denies the perception of the silent majority.

    If it is about the unusual smell, the parts of fur or cat tellow: Often one of the silent majority has to apologhize if he or she dislikes what is not normal. And annoying for the fellow passengers or the personnel on a train or flight.

    In the restricted space of an aircraft there is only one sanitary and commen sense solution: Pets into the climatized cargo hold.

    A smelling pet can ruin the full flight experience of one up to two rows in front or behind…


  11. An enormous population of Wounded Warriors, generated over now 18 years of war, utilize ESAs.

    As HIPPA law restricts the release of personal health information (Letters that describe what wounds, injuries, or illnesses the Veteran is being treated for) neither a service animal or ESA owner can be required to provide a copy to anyone.

    Alaska’s policy is fair as opposed to other airlines I have heard about. They just left out that under ADA monkeys, properly trained, are service animals too.

  12. “Emotional Support Animal” needs to be not a thing anymore. You have Service Animals, and pets that people need to pay for and handle as such on the plane.

  13. Alaska paperwork requires that the individual be currently in treatment and that the documenting provider has an NPI number.

    I don’t get it about the mini-horse, though.

  14. @Callum: I can assure you this is not a thing anywhere but the US and is nothing to do with actual real mental health issues which I actually support. This whole ESA thing in America is why most of the world sigh “Uh, Americans”.

    As @Dan Kendall points out you either have trained service animals such as Guide dogs or they’re pets which means they need to be paid for and go in the hold. There is also practical issue here, service animals are trained and are chosen for particular demeanour. A lot of people are not pet lovers and may feel anxious around a dog for example – untrained dogs will pounce, paw and sniff, this is unacceptable for someone with anxiety have to deal with on an enclosed space especially when this widely abused by people who are just bringing a pet.

  15. ESA animals are NOT service animals,they are pets. They are not trained to provide a specific service to a disabled person and are not allowed special considerations by the ADA.
    People scamming the system need to be prosecuted for abusing ADA protections for the truely disapbled

  16. You would have at least one US Senator disagree with this emotional support animal thing after paying $500 in campaign money for his family’s pet rabbit to have it’s own seat.
    Just saying.

  17. I fully understand the comments. I also think many of them are cheap-shots and smack of purely childish humor.

    The tightening of restrictions for ESAs – Emotional Support Animals – is overdue but there are special circumstances.

    Newly retired, I recently moved to Hawaii. Though I would gladly have paid for my 12.5 yo dog to travel in the cabin, there was no mechanism by which I could pay to do so. I would not travel here with my beloved pet in cargo.

    In preparation for the move, an extra seat was purchased so as not to inconvenience a seat-mate on the trans-Pacific flight. At the airport and at every turn, Alaska Airlines representatives were uniformly kind and while waiting at the gate, numerous people approached me to pet my dog and were supportive. My 45lb dog was well-behaved and always under control during the six hour flight. Our row-mate was seemingly never inconvenienced by my pet and I witnessed him petting her head on several occasions. We exchanged pleasantries upon departure in Kona, Hawaii.

    Again, I understand the comments. There can be mitigating circumstances. I think it’s completely shameful that some people have chosen to use loopholes so as not to pay for bringing pets aboard.

    Luckily, I am with my pet and will enjoy her last couple years here on the Big Island.

    I know and appreciate that corporate entities often make blanket policies for the sake of uniformity. However, I do hope airlines will be able to give kind consideration to cases such as mine.

    Thank you.

  18. Boarding of these allergy-causing creatures should be allowed ONLY if there are NO passengers in the same cabin who would be medically affected !! There needs to be a STRONG pushback by we whose lives are threatened by severe asthma attacks. These reactions can, indeed, be life-threatening !! Airlines need to be considerate of ALL passengers, not just those who are psychologically impaired.

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