Department of Transportation issues guidance on traveling with emotional support animals

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, issued the following statement on the Department of Transportation’s enforcement guidance concerning emotional support animals (ESAs):

“Airlines for America applauds the Department of Transportation’s enforcement guidance on emotional support animals (ESAs). The availability of fraudulent ESA credentials online has enabled people who are not truly in need of animal assistance to abuse the rules and evade airline policies regarding animals in the cabin. With over a million passengers bringing ESAs on flights last year, airlines and airports saw a sharp increase in incidents such as biting and mauling by untrained animals. The DOT’s guidance is an important step toward addressing this growing problem and ensuring a safer and healthier travel experience for all.”

Airlines cannot limit the number of service animals on a flight, but will be allowed to deny boarding to an animal that is too large, too heavy or younger than four months, according to guidance provided Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Department of Transportation officials are also developing new rules governing what types of animals will be allowed to accompany passengers on flights and what documentation will be required to determine whether the animal’s presence is a legitimate need.