As we mentioned a few weeks back in the blog, Delta had set forth a new policy to impose stricter regulations on service and support animals. Now United is following along with a similar policy set to begin on March 1, 2018. United will require a 48-hour notice, an enhanced letter from a mental health professional, and will require customers traveling with an emotional support animal to prove additional documentation including:
must provide confirmation that the animal has been trained to behave properly in a public setting and acknowledge responsibility for the animal's behavior.
must also provide a health and vaccination form signed by the animal's veterinarian. The veterinarian must also affirm that there is no reason to believe that the animal will pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others on the aircraft or cause a significant disruption in service.
Citing that year-over-year they have seen a 75% increase in customers bringing emotional support animals onboard leading to a significant growth of inflight incidents involving those animals. The airline also commented in a statement “The Department of Transportation’s rules regarding emotional support animals are not working as they were intended to, prompting us to change our approach in order to ensure a safe and pleasant travel experience for all of our customers.”
According to United, the policy regarding which type of service animals will stay the same. United, also issued a reminder that animals prohibited traveling in the cabin include ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, reptiles, sugar gliders, non-household birds, exotic animals and animals with a foul odor or not properly cleaned, and certainly no peacocks.
While the updated policies by United and Delta won’t completely eliminate the number of people who claim or take advantage of the Emotional Support Animal system. The extra required paperwork will likely reduce the number of people who use this loophole to game the system.
You can find more information on United’s new policy updates here. Now the question is when American Airlines with follow suit and make an update to their current policy and to what degree these new implementations will actually make on the number of emotional support animals allowed in the cabin.