United Airlines has announced that it will join Delta Air Lines in placing age restrictions on emotional support animals accompanying passengers. Starting this month, kittens and puppies will not be considered qualified emotional support companions and, in most cases, will not be permitted to travel in the cabin.
This week, another shot was volleyed in the ongoing crackdown on passengers who abuse airline policies permitting emotional support animals to accompany flyers with legitimate needs. United Airlines announced that kittens and puppies will no longer qualify as authorized companion animals and will, in most cases, not be exempted from rules governing how pets travel on flights.
United’s move mirrors a similar policy change announced by Delta Air Lines late last year. “These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs—such as veterans with disabilities—to travel with trained service and support animals,” Delta Senior Vice President for Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance John Laughter said at the time announcing the new restrictions.
United, likewise, said the policy will actually help to solidify the rights of passengers with a legitimate need for trained emotional support animals or qualified service animals for the disabled. The airline says limiting the designation of emotional support animals to fully mature cats and dogs will help to ensure the four-legged companions are properly trained.
United is also following Delta’s lead in banning emotional support dogs and cats from all flights with a scheduled duration of eight hours or longer. “We have seen increases in on-board incidents on longer flights involving these animals, many of which are unaccustomed to spending an extended amount of time in the cabin of an aircraft,” United officials told CNBC News in a statement.
The new restrictions at United are set to go into effect on January 7. Delta’s new rules were in place before the first of this year, but passengers who have already booked tickets and received permission to bring companion animals with them will not be affected by the changes. So far, American Airlines has not yet announced plans to match the new stricter policies at Delta and United.