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Old Dec 17, 12, 3:48 pm   #1
 
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"Emotional Support Animal" on my flight flies for free. Seriously?

I'm presently on US 796, LAX-PHL. At the gate, one passenger was carrying a small dog. Another passenger asked, "How much does it cost to take your dog?" The dog's owner said, "There is no charge because she is an emotional-support dog. US Airways is very friendly about them."

So I researched what "emotional support animals" are; they are defined as an animal "which provides therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship and affection."

OK, wait a second. Couldn't most pets be defined that way? Heck, couldn't most "significant others" be defined that way? How about a best (human) friend? It would seem to me that if people can skirt the $100 fee for bringing a pet on board by having a dog labeled "emotional support," then one could argue that a spouse/partner/friend should travel for free because, after all, those people provide emotional support, too.

To be clear, I love animals (I've fostered/owned ten dogs). But unless the dog is a true service dog, I just don't see how US allows "emotional support" animals to fly for free.

If someone is more knowledgeable about this subject, please educate me!
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Old Dec 17, 12, 3:53 pm   #2
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Just call CS and ask what documentation they require for emotional support animal.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 3:56 pm   #3
 
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Originally Posted by tommyleo View Post
I'm presently on US 796, LAX-PHL. At the gate, one passenger was carrying a small dog. Another passenger asked, "How much does it cost to take your dog?" The dog's owner said, "There is no charge because she is an emotional-support dog. US Airways is very friendly about them."

So I researched what "emotional support animals" are; they are defined as an animal "which provides therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship and affection."

OK, wait a second. Couldn't most pets be defined that way? Heck, couldn't most "significant others" be defined that way?
Depending on the stage of the relationship, they could be either an emotional support entity or an emotional distress entity.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 3:58 pm   #4
 
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Originally Posted by tommyleo View Post
"There is no charge because she is an emotional-support dog. US Airways is very friendly about them."

So I researched what "emotional support animals" are; they are defined as an animal "which provides therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship and affection."

OK, wait a second. Couldn't most pets be defined that way? Heck, couldn't most "significant others" be defined that way?
"I'll be your dog!"
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Old Dec 17, 12, 4:00 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by ITRADE View Post
Depending on the stage of the relationship, they could be either an emotional support entity or an emotional distress entity.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 4:24 pm   #6
 
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The owner has to provide a doctors note. The airline can deny the animal under certain guidelines and the airline can require additional documentation as well as refusal of the support since it isnt a true "service" animal. The owner and doctor are liable for the animal in the event of an incident involving the animal. Emotional support animals are limited to those similar to service animals.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 6:01 pm   #7
 
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Federal Law requires airlines to permit passengers with emotional support animals to fly with them free of charge. True emotional support animals are used as a form of therapy for people with disabilities. There are strict requirements. This is from the US Airways website:

Emotional support or psychiatric service animals

Please call 800-428-4322/TTY 800-245-2966 at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure if you're traveling with emotional support or psychiatric service animals.

To travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal in the cabin, you must provide documentation dated within one year from the date of the scheduled initial flight on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed clinical social worker), or from a medical doctor specifically treating the passengers mental or emotional disability.

Documentation must state:

The passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -- Fourth Edition (DSM IV)

The passenger needs the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger's destination

The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor, and the passenger is under his or her professional care.

The date and type of the mental health professional or medical doctor's license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued.

I can tell you that on the two occasions that I saw passengers in first class traveling with an emotional support animal, they were required to show the required documentation on the plane.

Last edited by finster869; Dec 17, 12 at 6:10 pm..
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Old Dec 17, 12, 6:04 pm   #8
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I was on a UA flight a week ago where the passenger took his "emotional support animal" out of the small carrier (fit under seat). He was asked twice to put it back in because, while the animal can ride in the cabin, it cannot be removed from the carrier. He refused both times until the Captain came on the PA to let the whole cabin know that he was turning the plane back to Miami (we were over the Gulf enroute to Costa Rica) if the passenger did not comply. After a few scowling looks, he did it.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 6:41 pm   #9
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Originally Posted by PHL View Post
I was on a UA flight a week ago where the passenger took his "emotional support animal" out of the small carrier (fit under seat). He was asked twice to put it back in because, while the animal can ride in the cabin, it cannot be removed from the carrier. He refused both times until the Captain came on the PA to let the whole cabin know that he was turning the plane back to Miami (we were over the Gulf enroute to Costa Rica) if the passenger did not comply. After a few scowling looks, he did it.
That wasn't an emotional support animal, because emotional support animals aren't carried in pet carriers. If it was an emotional support animal, then the passenger could hold the animal on his lap or the animal could sit on the floor. If the pet was in a carrier, then it was probably a cabin pet, and the rules prohibit removing a pet from its carrier.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 6:46 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by tommyleo View Post
...But unless the dog is a true service dog, I just don't see how US allows "emotional support" animals to fly for free. ...
If the Feds say "you gotta", what's US gonna do?

article link

(snip)
Quote:
... Last November, ABC News reported that a 300-pound pot-bellied pig flew on a US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Seattle because the animal was deemed a therapeutic companion pet. ...
I can just imagine sitting next to a big pig for hours ... I'd probably be oink, oink, oinking by then too
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Old Dec 17, 12, 7:11 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by kudzu View Post
If the Feds say "you gotta", what's US gonna do?

article link

(snip)


I can just imagine sitting next to a big pig for hours ... I'd probably be oink, oink, oinking by then too
For sure I would order a ham sammich.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 7:43 pm   #12
 
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At least the dog wasn't lying in your feet in the bulkhead
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Old Dec 17, 12, 7:57 pm   #13
 
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Note that the documentation requirements do not include anything about whether the animal has received any training, because it hasn't.

Last edited by EricH; Dec 18, 12 at 6:14 am..
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Old Dec 17, 12, 8:28 pm   #14
 
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Pigs can go...

Pigs can fly, so why not? http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=95...1#.UM_iLazBk0g
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Old Dec 17, 12, 8:50 pm   #15
 
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My wife worked at the Crystal Palace when this incident transpired.

Many lulz were exchanged amongst our circle of friends in the wake of this.

I actually think this article did the event more justice:

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/ar...d=2000_3253043

- "Mostly, everyone made jokes about what we were having for lunch - like BLT sandwiches," said the source.

- Squealing loudly, it madly ran loose through the aircraft and tried to enter the cockpit. It finally found refuge in the food galley, where it refused to budge.

- "It didn't smell, it was a clean pig," said a witness on board the flight. "It slept almost the whole time, like a pig in a blanket."
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