Airlines Aren't Monkeying Around With New Policies For Emotional Support Animals
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
All right, pet lovers, be warned. Expect more scrutiny next time you want to bring your furry or feathered friend onboard a United Airlines flight. A new policy requiring more documentation for emotional support animals kicks in today. It comes on the heels of a similar move by Delta. Matthew Klint of the travel site Live and Let's Fly describes the documentation that's now required.
MATTHEW KLINT: One, vaccination details documenting that the animal is up to date on vaccinations and, two, document stating that the animal is well-trained, that it won't defecate or urinate on the plane or in the gate area.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Good tips for any animal owner. This change in policy comes as United has seen a 75 percent year-over-year increase in customers bringing emotional support animals onboard. An the airline has experienced a significant increase in onboard incidents involving these animals. Federal law defines emotional support animals as those that documents show are necessary for someone's emotional well-being. That's pretty broad. And some recent incidents have made people wonder.
CHANG: In January, a woman tried to board a plane with a support peacock. She said she even bought an extra ticket for the bird. She was stopped before getting on the flight, but travel columnist Christopher Elliott says other odd pets have had better luck.
CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT: The strangest animal probably ever was the pig on US Airways that was running loose in first class.
SHAPIRO: ABC News reported at the time the owner had convinced US Airways that the 300-pound hog was a therapeutic companion pet and claimed to have a doctor's note.
CHANG: It's not always funny. There have been instances of support dogs biting and scratching other passengers. United and Delta's tougher rules are supported by both the flight attendants' union and a key emotional support animal organization called CertaPet. A CertaPet spokesperson says these rules strike the right balance between the needs of other passengers and people who need an animal on their lap to handle the flight.
SHAPIRO: In case you're wondering, there are some animals that are not allowed on planes under any circumstances, including insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, exotic animals and those not properly cleaned or carrying a foul odor - so no snakes on a plane.
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