Earlier this year both Delta and United updated their policies when it comes to emotional support animals, and then within the past several weeks we’ve seen Alaska and American update their policies. Airlines have seen a spike in the number of passengers traveling with emotional support animals, and they’re starting to crack down on this.
Now another airline is joining the club and adding restrictions.
JetBlue has just announced that they’re making changes to their emotional support animal policy. This policy applies to any tickets flown as of July 1, 2018, regardless of when they were issued.
With JetBlue’s new policy, they’re accepting only dogs, cats, and miniature horses as emotional support animals, and are limiting people to one ESA per passenger. Passengers must notify the airline of their intent to travel with an ESA, and they must download, complete, and submit three documents online at least 48 hours in advance.
These documents include the following:
- Medical/Mental Health Professional Form – This document must be completed by the professional currently providing the Customer’s mental health care and who prescribes the emotional support or psychiatric service animal.
- Veterinary Health Form – This document must be completed by a veterinarian detailing and attesting to the animal’s vaccination records and fitness to fly.
- Confirmation of Animal Behavior Form – This document is a signed customer confirmation affirming the emotional support or psychiatric service animal is trained to behave appropriately in public and that the owner accepts all liability for any injuries or damage to property.
Passengers traveling with ESAs must also bring this documentation with them to the airport, and JetBlue says that “the behavior of the animal will be assessed at the airport to ensure all safety requirements are met before approving the animal for travel.”
As is the case with the changes we’ve seen from other airlines, these new documentation requirements won’t prevent anyone who is currently traveling with a dog, cat, or miniature horse as an emotional support animal from continuing to do so in the future. They’re simply trying to make you jump through some additional hoops, in hopes of fewer people having the follow-through to complete the paperwork in time.
Now that five of the biggest US airlines have updated their policies, it will be interesting to see if there’s a significant decrease in the number of people traveling with ESAs. I’m skeptical, but time will tell.
JetBlue is just matching their competitors here. The biggest implication here is that they’re banning some types of animals as ESAs. For the type of animals that are allowed, they’re adding one layover of paperwork, which isn’t a huge barrier. Personally I can’t imagine having to fill out an extra form will greatly change the number of people traveling with animals. I guess we’ll see the impact over time.
What do you make of JetBlue updating their policy on emotional support animals? Do you think this will greatly decrease the number of people traveling with ESAs?