The airline industry is pressuring the federal government to tighten rules governing which customers are permitted to bring emotional-support service animals on flights.
In comments earlier this week to the Department of Transportation, which is reviewing current regulations on the matter, three top airline lobbying groups claimed that passengers who don't have disabilities are bringing emotional support pets – including animals like ducks, kangaroos and peacocks that aren't properly trained – on planes.
“These animals, which are primarily dogs but also include wild and/or untrainable species, often are unable to behave appropriately in a public setting, including within the confines of an aircraft cabin,” they wrote. The carriers want to change the definition of “service animal” to align with the Americans With Disabilities Act, a shift that would mandate the animals be trained to accomplish a specific role.
At issue for airlines, among other things, is lost revenue from pets that are labeled as providing emotional service. Carriers charge as much as $125 to fly with a pet, while service animals fly for free, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“If DOT adopts our proposed changes, it will likely reduce regulatory burdens on qualified individuals with a disability who travel with a service animal, thereby facilitating improved access to air transportation for those passengers,” Airlines for America, the Regional Airline Association and the International Air Transport Association wrote in a 77-page letter.
The three groups said the number of trained service animals transported on U.S. airlines rose 24 percent from 2016 to 2017. The number of passengers who sought to travel with emotional support animals, however, grew 56 percent in the same time frame.
Congress is also putting pressure on the agency to act. A House-passed bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration includes a provision that would require the department to craft rules to define “service animal.”
Delta Air Lines said earlier this year it would begin limiting the number of service animals passengers can bring aboard an aircraft and will require additional documentation from owners.
This news has been published by title Airlines Urge Trump Administration To Tighten Rules On Emotional Service Animals
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