The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Thursday that it was adjusting federal regulations regarding animals traveling with passengers.
According to the official DOT website, airline employees can ban animals from a flight if they deem them potentially dangerous to other passengers or crew members, but blanket bans such as Delta Air Lines not allowing pit bulls is against the law.
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As the number of airline passengers flying with service and emotional support animals has increased in recent years, carriers have been forced to institute and enforce their own rules and regulations.
The ruling from the DOT gives the airline industry a basic set of guidelines that takes the guesswork out of developing policies. The current changes are being applauded by The Association of Flight Attendants.
Once the full guidelines are released, carriers will have 30 days to make their rules comply with the federal policy. Many of the same policies universally accepted before the DOT mandate will stay the same, such as a ban on young animals and exotic pets like snakes.
Airlines for America (A4A) issued the following statement on the Department of Transportation’s enforcement guidance concerning emotional support animals:
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.