Alaska Airlines Updates Policy On Emotional Support Animals

A few months back both Delta and United updated their policies when it comes to emotional support animals. Airlines have seen a huge spike in the number of passengers traveling with emotional support animals, and they’re starting to crack down on this. Alaska Airlines has just announced that they’ll be the latest airline to update their policy on traveling with emotional support animals.

In updating their policy, Alaska Airlines notes that they’ve seen a big increase in the number of travelers with these kinds of animals, and now they have about 150 emotional support and psychiatric service animals traveling with them daily.

With Alaska’s new policy, those traveling with emotional support animals who make bookings on or after May 1, 2018, will need to email or fax Alaska Airlines three completed documents at least 48 hours prior to travel:

  1. Animal Health Advisory Form – On this form the flyer acknowledges Alaska Airlines’ recommendation that all emotional support and psychiatric service animals travel with a veterinary-issued health certificate.
  2. Mental Health Form – Currently required, this is a letter issued by a mental health professional or medical doctor approving the use of an emotional support and psychiatric service animals.
  3. Animal Behavior Form – A signed affidavit affirming the emotional support or psychiatric service animal is trained to behave in public and that the owner accepts all liability for any injuries or damage to property.

These forms will be available by April 30 on alaskaair.com.

This won’t completely eliminate those taking advantage of the emotional support animal loopholes with US airlines. Even those who want to take their pets onboard should easily be able to provide this paperwork. However, by increasing the documentation requirements, it will reduce the number of people who do so.

Bottom line

Alaska is basically matching both Delta and United here, though is doing so a couple of months later. This documentation requirement adds a layer of paperwork to bring an animal onboard, though won’t completely eliminate the opportunity for people to travel with their pets.

To be honest, I’m a bit surprised to see that American hasn’t updated their policy, given that they almost always seem to follow both Delta and United.

Comments

  1. I still remember how my teacher framed the ridiculous amount of paperwork we all had to fill in for school field trip through Europe (pre-Schengen days): none of this existed until someone started abusing entry rights into various countries…

    Whenever we groan about bureaucracy, we have nobody but ourselves to blame: abuse of rights always leads to either higher threshold or partial chaos.

  2. I wonder if the other airlines have actually seen a reduction in the number of emotional support animals on trips based upon these new guidelines.

  3. You can still take your pet without all this paperwork as PETC, as long as it stays in a pettravelbag that fits underneath the seat and provided you pay the applicable servicefee.
    This whole paperwork thing only applies to animals that do not travel in a bag, but remain close to the owner on the floor or lap in case of a small animal.
    So two different situations: the so called PETC and ESA ! Usually airlines allow only 2 PETC per flight and passengers need to prebook them therefore.

  4. I do not care what others say..in the past there is no or rare moments where emotional pets are allowed in the cabin..why suddenly this huge pike of interests..let them pay the pax a higher fare and more restrictions..than you will see this problem will decrease…the main problem is people are misusing this service just to have their pets with..you have those abimals 24/7 with you..a few hours away would not kill them…well, not with UA though…

  5. I flew on United last week and the women behind me had an actual service dog (she was visually impaired). You wouldn’t know the dog was even there unless you looked back. The dog sat on the floor in front of her, never made a noise, and conducted himself like the professional service dog he was trained to be.

    Glad to see they’re cracking down on these non-service animals — that’s abuse of the system.

  6. How about cracking down on Doctors that write prescriptions at the drop of a hat for EVERYTHING?

    Headache? Here is an opioid.
    Ingrown toenail? Here is a handicap sticker for your car.
    Feel sad occasionally? Here is a note so you can take your peacock with you on a plane.

  7. There are a number of reasons why the industry is seeing an increase in so-called Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). Transporting a pet as excess luggage or as cargo is expensive; often hundreds of dollars. Many airlines have imposed temperature restrictions on luggage and cargo animals to protect them from temperature extremes during ground handling. This is one reason why there were so many ESAs over the holiday season and in the winter. And, you can expect an increase again in the summer when airlines once again restrict pet acceptance due to high temperatures. Another factor is the crate or kennel which must conform to minimum size requirements mandated by USDA regulations. For larger dogs a properly sized kennel is too large to fit through the cargo compartment door which is one reason why there are so many large dogs being brought onto the plane. Of course what has made this all the more easier to do is the proliferation of on-line “doctors” who for $35-50 (and never having seen or examined the patient) will gladly sell them the supporting documentation they need to travel with an ESA.

    The various new airline policies are a step in the right direction, but ultimately this needs to be resolved through the federal legislation and rule-making process.

  8. I’m seeing two ads for support animals on the page along with your article today “want to fly with your pet for free?”

    Untrained, pampered pets forced by their self-centered owners to pose as support animals is a problem for innocent passengers and a problem for those with true needs for service/support animals. While I prefer fewer regulations in general, these latest airline regulations seem to be reasonable attempts at a solution.

  9. I haven’t paid much attention lately but do ESA and their human passengers get preferential boarding? Some airlines let peanut allergy passengers board first to “sanitize” their surroundings while the cabin is still empty. I know most airlines no longer offer peanuts or other nut products however once I was asked by a FA to not eat the trail mix I had brought onboard because there was someone with an allergy on the flight and I’m fine with that. What bothers me though is that many more passengers have severe allergic reactions to pets and no care is taken to protect their rights. Animals can travel in the cargo hold, humans can’t (at least while I write ;)).

  10. @Donna

    I have not heard of such thing..cabin sanitize because of peanut allergies?..you do know or not..that in premium class they mostly serve nuts with your aperitif..I have not seen one premium pax in my cabin who denied the nuts amd started a drama over nut allergies!..the good old and very tasteful champagnes must have must washed it off from their system!..this drama which you are refering to must be a common phenomenon in Economy class!..regarding animals in First class..I have not seen one species in these years..knock on the wood..hopefully never..the owner must have book little chuchu an Economy seat as it is far more cheaper and away from him..

  11. @Donna yet , lol 😉
    I’m sure Spirit will release the new in-flight revolution: coffin flight, where for the measly price of 50$ RT you can fly coast to coast in the cargo hold.

  12. @Myles. I should have mentioned no peanuts in Economy class. My bad.

    I’m not suggesting the peanut allergy passengers are being dramatic. About seven or eight years ago, when I regularly flew on Delta, I know they allowed the allergic passengers/parents to “wipe down” their seating areas. I read recently where AA doesn’t allow this practice and there was some pending or threatened litigation. I have nothing but sympathy for people who suffer from severe allergies be it peanut, animal or anything else.

    I’ve only seen one service dog in domestic F ever in decades of air travel. Mostly I see them in the first row of Economy in the bulkhead aisle seats.

  13. @Myles:

    I actually saw this last week aboard Southwest. A passenger was allowed to pre-board ahead of Group A so she could wipe down her seat/row with Clorox wipes or something similar. No big kerfuffle was made and the only reason I knew what transpired was because she was seated near me and was thanking the FA for being accommodating. I promptly fell asleep before takeoff so am unsure if we were served peanuts or pretzels, but I’d venture the latter. So it definitely does happen and I’d presume if the pax was in J or F, she’d have done the same. But I’m sure most with peanut allergies are as subtle as this pax was which is why you’ve not seen/heard of it.

  14. @Donna and @ AdamR

    Thanks for your comments.
    I am really learning right now. I have not encountered such situation with peanut allergies or wiping the seats before other pax board the plane..but the clorox odour though?! ..you are probably right most pax are very subtle regarding their allergies or medical issues. I am not that eccentric or posh like some here lovely to shout out..I am just curious and observate the surroundings first..I had one experience a few years ago back in First class in which one of my First class neighbour over dramatically barked at the purser for serving him tiger prawns as he is allergic to it..but did not pre order any other meal or informed the crew..but later on his main course he ordered lobster?!..For me this is so hypocrital and an Axxxxxx! So I am more critical to such extra wishes or services before acknowledging it.

  15. An equally big problem is fake service animals. None of the policies by AS, UA or DL address the fake service animals who don’t need any of this documentation.

  16. And I suppose the needs of passengers who are allergic to dogs do not enter the equation?

    A guide dog for the blind is essential. Others dogs should not be in the cabin.

  17. Jeez, this is really crazy..lots of insane pax out there!..from your comments the airlines should make it mandatory that pax have to undergo a physiological ang psychological evaluation..before being sold a ticket..I bet 60% of the world population will be walking from then on or taking Uber!

  18. What a joke this whole concept of support animals is. People are taking advantage of the situation. I certainly don’t want to be sitting next to an animal on a flight when I’ve paid a lot for a seat in the premium cabins.

  19. Leave the animal at the kennel. Stop flying Fluffy to grandma’s house for the kids to enjoy while on vacation.
    Cheez—-how do people go to work everyday or school knowing that the pet is ALL ALONE at home?
    All this ESA animal stuff is a bunch of C”(&$#(&#$& !
    Everybody knows it.

  20. Is this just North American thing as I don’t see much evidence of animals on airlines in other countries?

  21. Well, non US carriers would first evaluate specifically if that animal is liable to be in the cabin or not..or even travel at all..By the end of the flight in cities outside USA border patrol or vet authorities will control if they are allowed to enter or be quarantined..mostly it involves high penalties or surcharges..or in Asia it just go to the local eateries..nothing is wasted!

  22. Thank goodness.
    this abuse of everyone’s good nature is out of control.

    in the last few months I’ve seen–
    1) a dogfight break out in LAX T4
    2) An “ESA” leave a long gooey trail of dog scat in T6. That dude’s single green baggie wasn’t going to cut it
    3) Repeatedly been crowded by large dogs in AA First Class.

    This is typical American “oh the rules of human decorum can’t possibly apply to me”.

    Love the true service dogs. no prob.
    Everybody else’s emotional support chickens? Leave ’em at home.
    Or, drive. you should definitely drive. it will be fun.

  23. Seems to me that the (3) documents might dissuade some people from bringing their fake support animals, but just like anything else – a batch of the fake required documents will be (or already is) online. Faxing them is an option? Who’s watching the Fax machine at Alaska air? What sucks is that it’s making things more difficult for the very people that NEED their guide dogs /support dogs. I think dogs / animals needing to fly should have ID cards that are somehow regulated and have “actual” legit reasons and proper forms – all documents vetted appropriately (sorry bad pun) and proven legit.

  24. I have no problem with true service dogs. I have a big problem with fake “emotional support” animals.

    Maybe Emirates have the right idea: they only allow guide dogs for the blind and falcons in passenger cabins. And falcons only on flights between Dubai and Pakistan. https://www.emirates.com/english/help/faq/544304/what-are-the-rules-and-charges-for-travelling-with-animals All other animals fly as cargo.

    And given the choice, I’d much rather fly with a dog than a falcon.

  25. The US ADA *DOES NOT* make accommodation for Emotional Support Animals (pets). It DOES make a clear accommodation for true service animals, which are there to support physical disabilities wherein the animal can do the tasks the owner cannot, such as a seeing eye dog, seizure monitor dog, wheelchair assistance dog, etc.

    I wish the airlines would take a harder stance on this.

    BTW, all pets are “emotional support” animals. There’s no non-emotional reason to own a pet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *