NORTH TEXAS (CBS LOCAL/CBSDFW.COM) – Starting July 1, ferrets, goats and hedgehogs can no longer fly American Airlines, even if they’re support animals.
They’re just three of a somewhat lengthy list of barred animals the airline has put out in response to an increase in customers transporting a service or support animal onboard their aircraft — more than 40 percent from 2016 to 2017.
“We support the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs for a trained service or support animal,” AA said in a statement. “Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our customers and working dogs onboard our aircraft.”
Some of the changes include additional restrictions on animal types, including sugar gliders and snakes. American will now 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 people traveling with service animals on flights longer than 8 hours, documentation is required stating the animal won’t need to relieve itself or can do so in a way that doesn’t create a health or sanitation issue.
AA employees are trained to ask certain questions to determine the classification applicable to the animal.
Trained service animals are specifically trained to perform life functions for individuals with disabilities such as visual impairments, deafness, seizures and mobility impairments.
To travel with an emotional support and psychiatric service animal in the cabin, customers must contact the Special Assistance Desk with all required documentation at least 48 hours before their flight. Documentation validation includes AA contacting their mental health professional.
The following is a breakdown of AA’s new policy.
Emotional / psychiatric support and fully-trained service animals can fly in the cabin at no charge if they meet the requirements.
Animals must be able to fit at the customer’s feet, under their seat or in their lap (animals to be seated on lap must be smaller than a 2-year old child). For safety reasons, customers won’t be able to sit in an exit row when traveling with their service or emotional / psychiatric support animal.
Emotional support and service animals cannot:
· Protrude into or block aisles
· Occupy a seat
· Eat from tray tables
Emotional support and service animals must be trained to behave properly in public; they must be tethered by leash and / or harness and under your control at all times. Animals won’t be permitted in the cabin if they display any form of disruptive behavior that can’t be successfully corrected or controlled, including but not limited to:
· Biting or attempting to bite
· Jumping on or lunging at people
If this behavior is observed at any point during the journey and isn’t corrected or controlled, the animal will be considered a pet and all pet requirements and applicable fees will apply.
Some animals can’t be permitted as service or emotional support animals due to safety and/or public health risk.
Contact special assistance
· Sugar gliders
· Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, & birds of prey)
· Animals with tusks, horns or hooves (excluding miniature horses properly trained as service animals)
· Any animal that is unclean / has an odor