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American, Delta and Frontier Follow Suit in Banning Emotional Support Animals

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Frontier are the latest U.S.-based carriers to stop allowing emotional support animals to board aircraft, after Alaska Airlines made the move to start the new year. Both policies are effective as of Jan. 11, 2021, with provisions to allow flyers booked with emotional support companions to keep their itineraries.

Two more airlines are grounding emotional support animals aboard flights, after the U.S. Department of Transportation created stricter rules on what constitutes a pet from an actual service dog. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Frontier Airlines will no longer allow flyers to bring an emotional support animal onboard starting with new bookings made on and after Jan. 11, 2021.

New Policies Require Forms and Expert Declarations As Required by DOT

While both airlines are making the move to ban the controversial practice of bringing aboard pets masquerading as support animals, their approaches are slightly different. For Delta, the ban starts immediately, as the airline will no longer allow bookings for emotional support animals. Those who held a confirmed ticket prior to the announcement will still be allowed to travel with their emotional support animals.

Starting today, flyers must submit DOT-required documentation online about the service dog’s training and health no later than 48 hours before departure. If a flight is booked within the 48-hour window, flyers must present the paperwork at the gate. Delta will also lift the ban on pit bull-type dogs put in place in 2018, so long as the travelers provide the correct papers.

“We applaud the DOT for making this change and acknowledging the concerns that Delta and many other stakeholders have raised for the past several years,” Allison Ausband, senior vice president of in-flight service at Delta, said in a statement. “The DOT’s final rule enables airlines to put the safety of all employees and customers first, while protecting the rights of customers who need to travel with trained service animals.”

For American and Frontier, the ban begins on Jan. 11, but previous bookings with emotional support animals will be allowed until Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. American will reach out to flyers potentially affected by the change, with the paperwork expected to go online in the days to come. In Frontier’s statement, the airline says they will continue to transport dogs, cats and miniature horses “that have received training (including as a psychiatric service animal) to assist a qualified individual with a disability” through the end of the month.

““Our team is motivated by a purpose to care for people on life’s journey, and we believe these policy changes will improve our ability to do just that,” Jessica Tyler, president of cargo and vice president of airport excellence for American, said in a statement. “We’re confident this approach will enable us to better serve our customers, particularly those with disabilities who travel with service animals, and better protect our team members at the airport and on the aircraft.”

American and Delta Make Three Carriers Banning Emotional Support Animals

With the changes going into effect, American and Delta are the latest to ban emotional support animals outright on aircraft. Alaska Airlines was the first to do so, announcing its intentions on Dec. 29, 2020. United Airlines is currently the only major U.S.-based carrier to still allow emotional support animals aboard flights.

oktoberfest January 17, 2021

I don't believe most people with the phony animals were robbing the airlines of transport fees. As we will see now, they simply will travel without their animals as they did before. They only did it because imbeciles said they could so they exploited it to absurdity. It reminds me of when they decided to ban smoking on airplanes. Smokers said it was impossible not to be able to smoke for those long hours on the plane. Today by some miracle they can make it.

AsiaTravel2019 January 15, 2021

Let's be very honest here: the emotional support animal fraudsters are thieves. This was a huge scam. They robbed the airline of pet transport fees and ruined the experience for a lot of passengers. Good riddance. Can't wait for outraged customers to meltdown. Sad!

MRM January 13, 2021

98% of ESA's are fraudulent and meant to deceive and de-compensate the airlines of carriage fees. They cause more issues onboard - and not only with airline personnel (because they're really not ESA's but pets that people lie about being ESA's). They cause issues because some Americans are under the delusion that "animals are people too" and believe others will be enthralled with bringing their "family members" onboard and then letting them out of their cages. Those idiots obviously have their heads where the sun don't shine far too much of the time... Unfortunately the DOT was years behind in the making of these rules but once it clearly began costing airlines $$$ - magically the airlines realized they had to push the issue more emphatically. Now they'll get compensated for all the animals - NOT "FAMILY MEMBERS" - that come onboard. The best part? Those with true ADA afflictions will go back to simply being travelers that have legally-approved animals onboard - animals fully trained and very, very rarely an issue (though I cannot be on flights with them with family because of family allergy issues with dogs, cats, etc - I respect their legal right to have them.). I feel happy for the people with true - not delusionary - issues eventually won't be questioned (in people's minds) and go back to being "anonymous" travelers once again.

AsiaTravel2019 January 13, 2021

United...let's do it!