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Pros and Cons of Banning ESAs on Airplanes

Pros and Cons of Banning Emotional Support Animals on Airplanes

The United States has been one of the many countries that allowed traveling with a registered Emotional Support Animal. It’s the reason why you may have seen a golden retriever staring at you on a plane while you munch on your snacks. 

According to the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the US Department of Transportation (DoT), registered ESAs were allowed to fly in a plane cabin with their owner without any extra costs. But as per the recent ruling, ESAs do not enjoy the same privilege anymore. Based on a number of factors and incidents, DoT decided to ban ESAs on a plane. Now, airlines have the discretion to prohibit an ESA from entering the plane cabin or ask the owner to pay the pet fees and put their pets in the cargo. 

Like every other change, this new rule faces mixed responses from the public. While it is good news for some, others do not agree to be on the same page. So, what change does this ban bring to you as an Emotional Support Animal owner? Will you go with the former lot or the latter? Well, you can discern the effect by reading through the pros and cons of this new ESA law


emotional support animal

ESAs Won’t Have to Face Public Scrutiny

It may come as a surprise to some but ESA owners had to face the scrutiny of the general public. And all that because of a few people who didn’t want to pay the extra fee for traveling with their pets. 

Ever since the DoT allowed entry of ESAs in the airplane cabin free of charge, there had been many instances of miscreants misusing the law for their benefit. For starters, they took the liberty to get any type of animal into the airplane. From miniature horses and peacocks to pigs and pandas, airlines have seen it all. And since there wasn’t a clear categorization of the types of ESAs, airlines had to put up with the strange animals that passengers brought with themselves claiming that they provide emotional support. 

Similarly, many people had made illegal paperwork for their ESAs to reap the benefits and money exemptions for traveling with their supposed Emotional support animals. This reduced the legitimacy of the people who really needed ESAs for their mental health and needed their support to fight the anxiety of traveling. 

Airlines Will Get more Revenue

The Air Carrier Access Act was meant to make transportation easier for people with disabilities by making their travel with pets easier. This is why they did not have to pay any extra charges to the airlines for taking their pet along. However, with the new changes in place, the Act provides the airlines full discretion to decide whether they want to charge a person with an ESA or not.

With the continuation of pet fees, the airlines are estimated to gain more than $59.6 million a year. And it is a sum that only consists of the airline pet charges. Once the rule is in effect, it’s going to bring a huge amount of revenue for the airlines. 

The Safety of The Passengers is Maintained

One of the major concerns of the earlier ESA Laws among the general public was safety. As we’ve already discussed, there was no lack of people trying to misuse the rules for their selfish gain. As a result, we have had reports of people flying with the most outrageous ESAs. Baby Kangaroos and Ducks are one of the many on the list. In addition to this, ESAs also cause a safety risk for fellow passengers. Since the law did not mention having a trained ESA, there were several incidents of pets attacking the airplane staff and passengers. 

Apart from the 15,000 comments received by the Department, these unfortunate scenarios are one of the primary reasons why a need for change seemed necessary. As a result, DoT banned ESAs on airplanes as a means to make transportation safe for the public. 


emotional support animal flying laws

Doesn’t Recognize The Importance of Assistance Animals

The first downside of the recent changes in the Air Carrier Act is the fact that it doesn’t seem to recognize the importance of assistant animals. According to the new rule, only service animals are allowed in an airplane cabin, free of charge. It leaves out any mention of an emotional support animal. 

The new rule defines a service animal as “ a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” 

Now that the emotional support animals are left out of the category, airlines can deny people who need their ESAs to be by their side during travels. There are many cases of dogs and cats that provide therapeutic assistance to their owners such as the army veterans who suffer from PTSD or people who develop severe anxiety during takeoff or landing. Having them in the cargo defeats the purpose of having an ESA. 

Traveling With Pets Will Become a Hassle

The US Department of Transportation has not just banned ESAs on an airplane but also tightened the restriction of service animals. 

If you wish to travel with your pet, you would have to pay the necessary pet fee and keep them in a cargo throughout your trip. The process isn’t easy for people with service animals either. Everyone passenger with a service animal must contact the airlines 48 hours before the trip. In addition to this, they need to fill and submit the DoT’s Behavior and Training Attestation form. It basically states that the dog is trained, will maintain good behavior and has good health. If your trip is longer than 8 hours, you may have to fill an additional Relief Attestation Form that ensures that the service dog will not need to defecate during the flight and if the situation arises, it will be conducted in a sanitary manner. 

The only upside here is that the passengers with service animals can check-in online and avoid the hassle of gate check-ins. 

Pros and Cons of Banning Emotional Support Animals on Airplanes

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Now that the era of emotional support animals on airplanes has come to an end, you must remember that you can still benefit from the support and presence of animals. By applying for an ESA letter, you can get the housing benefits and live with your ESA if not fly on a plane. With the pros and cons listed here, you can decide if the new change will be an advantage or a disadvantage for you. 

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