Flying With an Emotional Support Animal - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

As more people in the U.S. turn to emotional support animals, more are bringing them on long-distance vacations… and that’s leading to a whole host of issues airlines have to face. In February, a Florida college student claimed she was forced to flush an emotional support hamster down a toilet by a Spirit Airlines employee, and prior to that, a woman was denied passage on a United Airlines flight with his support peacock.

Exotic animals, rodents and other pets are the subject of new airline regulations almost across the board as a result. Delta issued a statement saying it will more thoroughly vet unusual animals that people try to bring on flights.

“Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more,” the airline said. “Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.” Delta passengers who are traveling with a service or support animal are now required to show proof of the animal’s health and vaccinations at least 48 hours before flying, as well as provide a current letter signed by a doctor or mental health worker and sign an affidavit that says the animal will behave.

American Airlines also banned emotional support amphibians, ferrets, goats and other animals with hooves, tusks or horns. The airline does make an exception for miniature horses trained as service animals, though.

Many people believe some passengers are trying to pass off household pets as service animals to avoid paying pet fees or being forced to leave their pets behind, and that by claiming an animal is trained for emotional support, they’re getting away with it.

What Do You Think?

Do you think the airlines are right to put bans on certain types of animals flying in aircraft cabins, or do you believe that most people are being honest about their animals being trained to provide emotional support?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino