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 United, Alaska, American, 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.
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.