Joining the trend among North American Airlines, JetBlue unveiled a new set of rules for passengers traveling with emotional support animal companions.
JetBlue, this week, announced steps to curb abuses by passengers who falsely claim to be traveling with emotional support animals. The new set of policies follows similar recent moves by United, Delta and American Airlines.
“As always, we welcome the opportunity to support customers who require special assistance or accommodation while ensuring a safe environment for everyone onboard. JetBlue VP of Safety John Allen said in a statement announcing the new rules. “This is not only a requirement, it’s simply the right thing to do. With these new policies, we’ve developed a thoughtful and collaborative approach to balance the needs of customers requiring assistance while responding to the extensive feedback we’ve received from customers and crew members concerned about their health and safety.”
Under the just released guidelines, JetBlue passengers traveling with a support animal must now provide documentation confirming the animal’s training and credentials 48 hours before departure. The airline will require three verifiable documents before allowing passengers to board with support animals. A veterinary health form, a letter from a doctor or mental health worker and a document attesting to the animal’s behavior must now be submitted to the carrier no less than two full days before the flight.
In a departure from JetBlue’s legacy rivals, the airline chose to be very specific exactly where the airline will draw the line when it comes to the types and species of animals allowed on flights. For example, animals that are improperly cleaned or exhibit a foul odor and animals that appear to be in poor health will be rejected no matter the species.
Support animals with tusks are henceforth prohibited. Likewise, sugar gliders, spiders, hedgehogs, ferrets, rodents, reptiles and farm poultry earned specific mention as no longer welcome in the cabin. The individual animal kingdom shout outs are somewhat unnecessary given that the new policies list only dogs, cats and miniature horses as acceptable emotional support animals. On the other hand, problem passengers bringing animals like sugar gliders and spiders onto passengers planes is the whole reason these strict new policies are being implemented in the first place.
The airline says that it will no longer allow emotional support animals in training to fly in the cabin. Passengers will be limited to boarding with only one emotional support animal and boarding may be denied if the animal exhibits disobedient or vicious behavior.
The new regulations primarily affect passengers flying with emotional support animals. The rights of passengers traveling with a service animal are in many cases protected by federal law and enjoy greater protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).