Over the past year we’ve seen the major US carriers add several new restrictions to traveling with emotional support animals. It’s interesting that these changes have come in several phases, as some airlines have updated their policies three times.
American Airlines has just announced their latest updates to traveling with emotional support animals, which kick in for travel as of April 1, 2019. This follows American’s May 2018 emotional support animal policy changes.
American says that they are making these changes to “protect customers who have a legitimate need as well as the team members who work every day to keep all customers safe.”
So, what are the changes being made this time around? As of April 1:
- A traditional service animal may be a dog, a cat, or in some limited circumstances, a miniature horse
- A passenger may bring only one emotional support animal onboard an aircraft
- American will require a veterinary health form, along with immunization details, for emotional support animals
- Animals under four months of age will no longer be permitted to travel as service or support animals; this is because animals under this age haven’t received the necessary vaccinations
For what it’s worth, these changes are in addition to American’s May 2018 changes, where American started requiring passengers to fill out mental health professional forms, behavior guideline forms, and animal sanitation forms for flights of eight hours or more.
At that point American also banned several types of animals from acting as service animals, including goats, hedgehogs, snakes, sugar gliders, and more.
American is largely just following the additional restrictions that some other airlines put in place late last year. Typically they’d follow the competition sooner, but they didn’t in this case.
These all seem like fairly reasonable restrictions for them to add. Those who still want to travel with their dog or cat won’t have issues doing so, so this shouldn’t impact a vast majority of people traveling with ESAs.