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American Announces Changes to Emotional Support Animal Policy

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 5/14/2018 Donald Wood

American Airlines announced changes Monday to its emotional support animal policy, which will take effect July 1.

American officials report the changes to the current policy come after a massive 40 percent increase of customers transporting a service or support animal onboard their aircraft from 2016 to 2017.

Prior to the announcement of changes, American met with a number of disability groups to get their input, including the American Association of People with Disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Council for the Blind and My Blind Spot.

The airline said the changes to the emotional support animal policy are being implemented to protect rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs for a trained service or support animal.

Flight attendant serving coffee aboard an American Airlines flight: PHOTO: Flight attendant serving coffee aboard an American Airlines flight. (photo courtesy of American Airlines) © American Airlines PHOTO: Flight attendant serving coffee aboard an American Airlines flight. (photo courtesy of American Airlines)

“We support the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs for a trained service or support animal,” an American spokesperson said in a statement. “Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our customers, and working dogs onboard our aircraft.”

The changes at American include additional restrictions on animal types, such as insects, hedgehogs, and goats. The airline will also enforce the existing 48-hour advanced notice and pre-clearance policy for emotional support animals, but will have procedures in place for emergency travel booked within 48 hours of departure.

For travelers on flights eight hours or longer, documentation will be required stating the animal is approved to travel long distances without relieving itself or can do so that doesn’t create a potential health or sanitation issue.

For a full list of new rules, check out American’s official website.

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