U.S. proposes rule change that would allow airlines to ban emotional-support animals

by Bryan Brammer · Jan 25th, 2020 2:45 pm

The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a new rule that would allow airlines to ban emotional-support animals on flights.

Under the current rules, airlines are required to treat support animals as service animals, a policy that many carriers find much too lenient.

In 2018, airlines received over 3,000 complaints concerning untrained "service animals" that had either bitten passengers, fought with other animals, or left behind messes for crew members to clean up.

Although the new rule will still allow service animals that are professionally trained to assist passengers with physical and mental disabilities, it will also allow airlines to impose additional restrictions, such as requiring passengers with service animals to arrive an hour earlier for their flight.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said the new rule is a welcome change:

"It sets clear definitions and guidance to ensure people with disabilities and our veterans have necessary service animal assistance while maintaining the safety, health and security of all passengers and crew on board our planes."