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Alaska Airlines: “No More Free Flights for Emotional Support Dogs”

For many years, emotional support dogs have been treated in the same way as assistance dogs on flights. They were allowed on board at no additional cost and often no questions were asked. When the Department of Transportation recently decided that Emotional Assisted Animals (ESAs) no longer needed to be housed on flights like service dogs, airlines were quick to revise their rules.

Alaska Airlines will be the first to change their rules since the announcement. ESAs no longer receive the same benefits as specially trained service dogs.

Image: @ alaskaairlines / Facebook

New animal policy

As of February 28, 2021, Alaska Airlines will no longer accept ESAs on their flights. Instead, their humans have to pay to fly under the regular pet policy requirements.

The main difference between service dogs and emotional support dogs is that service dogs are trained for specific tasks. ESAs are only there to comfort their people but should still be prescribed by a doctor.

Every year more and more people are registering their dogs as emotional support animals through websites that are not credible. As a result, airlines have had a lot of problems with fake ESAs that resulted in flight disruption. Some passengers have even tried to bring more unusual animals on board, claiming they are ESAs. Airlines have seen emotional support from peacocks, ponies, pigs, turkeys, rabbits, and even kangaroos!

Image: la alakaairlines / Facebook

Effective January 11, 2021. Alaska only accepts service dogs that are trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability. Animals with emotional support are no longer accepted, ”wrote Alaska Airlines.

What to expect for future flights

If you book a flight by January 11, 2021 that departs before February 28, 2021, you can still let your ESA fly for free. After February 28, all ESAs on flights will be treated like normal animals. Service dogs that have been trained for certain tasks may continue to be used free of charge according to the usual rules.

The space for animals on flights varies based on availability. In addition, the animals must meet the requirements of the flight, e.g. B. fit under the seat in front of you, be at least 8 weeks old and stay in your carrier for the duration of the flight. Unlike other airlines, they do not directly ban certain breeds, but do not allow short-nosed breeds in the cargo hold due to their breathing problems.

Image: @ alaskaairlines / Facebook

In an ideal world, ESAs could fly as easily as service dogs. However, there have been too many fake ESAs creating problems so airlines have no choice. Maybe there is an easier way to stop fake ESAs and fake service dogs in the future. But for now, these are the rules that Alaska Airlines stands by, and other airlines are sure to follow suit.

This is further evidence that pretending to be dependent on a dog only hurts those who really need it.

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H / T: forbes.com
Featured image: @ alakaairlines / Facebook

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