United Restricts Age & Flight Length For Emotional Support Animals

Filed Under: United

In 2018 we’ve seen the major US airlines crack down on emotional support animals. The first airline to do this was Delta, as they announced changes, though the other major US airlines followed as well.

Delta announced a second set of changes to their emotional support animal policy in June, which several other airlines followed. Then a few weeks ago, Delta introduced a third set of changes. The other US carriers almost always follow Delta, and this is no exception.

United has just announced increased restrictions for emotional support animals, which kick in as of January 7, 2019. These changes include the following:

  • United is limiting emotional support animals to flights under eight hours
  • United will no longer accept kittens or puppies under four months of age as emotional support animals, in-cabin pets, or service animals on any flights, regardless of length
  • United is limiting acceptance of emotional support animals to dogs and cats, and is limiting acceptance of service animals to dogs, cats, and miniature horses

United is adding the age requirement to align with the vaccination policy of the CDC, while the eight hour flight limit is due to “increases in onboard incidents,” given that most animals aren’t used to being on planes for that long.

While this new policy applies as of January 7, 2019, United will honor reservations made prior to January 4, 2019, under the old rules.

  1. Is there another country in the whole wide world that has a sub population requiring ‘support’ animals on a plane journey. Srsly

  2. Oddly I’ve seen a massive increase in emotional support animals on planes and airport concourses since the policies went into place

  3. Say whatever you want about people being soft these days, but most of these people are just trying to fly their pets in-cabin for free.

  4. “most animals aren’t used to being on planes for that long”.
    How about, most animals aren’t used to being on planes period.

  5. As with everything else in this world, those who take advantage and are irresponsible, ruin it for everyone else. In my observation over the holiday travel period, there were an abundance of “emotional support / service” animals at the airport and on board, and I would venture to bet that 80% are fake.

    There are legitimate needs for ESA’s and Service Animals for those who suffer from anxiety, or blindness etc., and it’s sad that people are exploiting this for their own selfishness to not have to pay for their pet to travel.

    If you are taking advantage of it- the least you can do is be respectful by making certain your pet is well behaved. There was a man on our flight with a 70lb emotional support dog who could not fit properly in the aisle without disturbing the other passengers and the dog refused to sit down- that’s just ridiculous.

  6. So interesting question – does this mean that no pets are accepted in-cabin, or only when declared as emotional support animals?

    For example, we’ve got a small dog that occasionally travels for longer trips to the US (we live in Europe) – we pay the fee and all that, and it fits under the seat in front of us. Is that no longer permitted, or just if declared as an emotional support animal?

  7. Thank god airlines are finally coming to their senses about this! I still personally wish they would ban all animals that are not actual service animals in the cabin. I have yet to travel to another country where they routinely allow pets in the cabin like they do in the US.

  8. What do they do if someone near an emotional support is allergic? Are emotional or medical issues prioritized?

  9. @KevinS – I need to search, but I have read a number of articles on various travel blog sites where people with allergies were rebooked on later flights. In other words emotional support animals have taken precedence. Now, I believe some aspects of that were that people couldn’t prove their allergies. I now travel with a letter on my phone from my doctor documenting my allergies just in-case there are any issues.

  10. What happens with these animals in case of emergency evacuation? Stiletto heals must be taken off as they could puncture the slide…do they give booties to dogs and cats to cover their sharp claws? Do the horses obediently sit down holding their hoofs up in the air and slide? Does someone talk to them explaining the procedure so that a horse does not land on a passenger trying to get off the slide at the bottom?

  11. The story is incomplete. If your animal doesn’t qualify, but you brought it to the airport, United will offer to kill it for you for 7,500 MileagePlus award miles.

  12. The allergic need protection from this madness. Frankly, all passengers should not be subjected to this nuisance. At least if they are travelling to Asia, they will find that their pet is just not permitted at many hotels for any reason. Some sanity. In fact some hotels do not even allow service animals.

  13. Perhaps if people weren’t so aggressively rude and judgemental in the US, less people would need emotional support…

    I know someone personally who virtually never left the house until they got a support dog. The vast increase in their quality of life is well worth the irrational annoyance of a bunch of ignorant, selfish people in my books (even if many or even most support animals are just “undercover pets”).

  14. “Is there another country in the whole wide world that has a sub population requiring ‘support’ animals on a plane journey. Srsly”

    i second that. and man i would pay some extra money just to be in a flight with a miniature horse wandering thru the aisle

    americans are wackos

  15. “United is limiting emotional support animals to flights under eight hours.”
    Makes sense. Since, let’s be honest. Most of these animals are not trained service animals. Eight hours is even too much for a trained service animal.

    “kittens or puppies under four months of age”
    They’re not even old enough to have been trained as support animals. Makes sense. These were clearly people trying to get their pets on the plane for free.

  16. Stop the practice totally unless the person is blind and the dog is needed. This whole aspect is a joke by people in the usa. You barely see it anywhere else in the world. They have exploited things so as not to pay etc. Enough of the lark.

  17. Just found out it costs only $70 to a license or permit for a emotional support pet. It’s so easy no wonder so many weird people are taking their animals on flights.

  18. When flying on longer trips from the US to Europe, can I fly with my ESA pet with a stop over ? I was told he could only travel the first leg of the trip. How about the second?

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