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American Airlines Policy on Dogs in Main Cabin. Who To Write To?

American Airlines Policy on Dogs in Main Cabin. Who To Write To?

 

Old Sep 6, 14, 12:41 am
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American Airlines Policy on Dogs in Main Cabin. Who To Write To?

Hi,

Had an uncomfortable situation. Sitting in a bulk head on a DC-80. The person next to me has a largish dog on a leash and sits next to me and puts his dog under our legs.

This wasn't a guide dog, it was just a regular dog and the guy wasn't blind or old (in his 20's).

Who do you write to, to complain about this. I had a dog hair allergy and if this is going to be common practice then adios AA. Of course no one wanted to swap seats with me ... The dog was scary looking
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Old Sep 6, 14, 1:43 am
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AA.com, there is a online email CONTACT US part.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 2:03 am
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If the dog was 'largish' and not in a carrier, it must have been a service dog or "emotional support animal" with correct paperwork approved by AA prior to the flight.
As AA is legally obligated to transport these animals accompanying their handlers/owners in the cabin, you basically have no recourse. They cannot make the animals' handler buy a second seat, and when push comes to shove (seatmate with allergies), it's the animal that flies.
BTW, this situation could happen on any US carrier who are all bound by the same regulations. In fact, AA Special Assistance is tougher than others when it comes to approving ESANs/ SVANs.
Of course you can try writing in to AA Customer Relations (use the form on the website), and they might throw a few miles your way, but that's about it.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 2:25 am
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The dog has every right to be on the plane. If one is allergic to dogs, they should avoid bulkheads, as that is where they dogs that travel outside the carrier are very often placed.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 2:54 am
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Originally Posted by bhomburg View Post
As AA is legally obligated to transport these animals accompanying their handlers/owners in the cabin, you basically have no recourse. They cannot make the animals' handler buy a second seat, and when push comes to shove (seatmate with allergies), it's the animal that flies.
Service animals I completely agree with but the idea of an "emotional support animal" is just too much IMO....especially when it's of a size that interferes with fellow PAX. Why the law doesn't require the purchase of a second seat is beyond me.....

What happens when someone decides they need "support" from their Great Dane or Pyrenean Mastiff? Are there rules for them?
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Old Sep 6, 14, 3:44 am
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I agree that the situation is out of hand. The whole "emotional support animal" thing is insane. But as others have said, the problem is the Air Carrier Access Act and its implementing regulations - not AA policy.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 6:10 am
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While animals in carriers are prohibited from the bulkhead row (no under seat storage), service animals outside carriers are often seated there.

If you really want to avoid any dogs in your row, your best bet is an exit row seat - all animals are prohibited there.

As others have said, AA has to allow the animal on board. So there's no recourse for allergies or the dog looking scary. But the dog should not be under your legs. That space is yours. If the animal can't fit within the owner's space, then the owner should have two seats (and whether the owner or AA pays is not your problem). It's the same as if a passenger is a "customer of size" and can't fit in a single seat. So if you are writing to complain, that's what I would focus on.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 6:46 am
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I saw such a dog (I believe a presa de canario, looked like he weighed close to 150lbs) going to the bulkhead on a ORD-DCA flight in the last year or so (luckily we were in F). A fearsome beast on a leash, apparently someone's emotional support dog.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 6:47 am
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This was not a service animal. As I said the guy was in his 20s and dog was sacred.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by Ready2Go View Post
I agree that the situation is out of hand. The whole "emotional support animal" thing is insane. But as others have said, the problem is the Air Carrier Access Act and its implementing regulations - not AA policy.
This. I've seen far too many dogs flying lately as well. Not to get into the legal debate, as others have said AA and other airlines are required to carry the dog, but it's become way too easy for someone to get some kind of "service" dog and abuse that. That's the real issue here.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 6:54 am
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Originally Posted by inpd View Post
This was not a service animal. As I said the guy was in his 20s and dog was sacred.
What made the dog so holy?
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Old Sep 6, 14, 6:54 am
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Not much AA can do when this issue was mandated by Congress. IMO, as more and more people game the system, Congress will be forced to amend the law.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 6:57 am
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Originally Posted by Stripy View Post

What happens when someone decides they need "support" from their Great Dane or Pyrenean Mastiff? Are there rules for them?
A few years ago I did some consulting work for the office of aviation enforcement (those nice USDOT people our complaints go to). Among other interesting stories I heard about emotional support animal requests that airlines had denied - and then were escalated to DOT. My favorite: a pony!

As I understood it then, the airline can deny requests for carriage of emotional support animals if they may compromise the safe operation of the plane. I'm sure it's spelled out in the ACA.
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Old Sep 6, 14, 7:03 am
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Originally Posted by inpd View Post
Hi,

Had an uncomfortable situation. Sitting in a bulk head on a DC-80. The person next to me has a largish dog on a leash and sits next to me and puts his dog under our legs.

This wasn't a guide dog, it was just a regular dog and the guy wasn't blind or old (in his 20's).

Who do you write to, to complain about this. I had a dog hair allergy and if this is going to be common practice then adios AA. Of course no one wanted to swap seats with me ... The dog was scary looking
If it wasn't in a carrier, then it was a legally-designated support animal. They are allowed on planes as part of the ACA - and writing AA to suggest that they disregard federal law isn't going to get you very far.

Last edited by bdemaria; Sep 6, 14 at 8:51 am
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Old Sep 6, 14, 7:08 am
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Delta, for one, makes a clear distinction between service animals and emotional support animals, and outlines documentation requirements for the latter.

Delta requires documentation (not more than one year old) on letterhead from a licensed mental health professional to be presented to an agent upon check in stating:

Title, address, and phone number of mental health professional.

The passenger has a mental health related disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - 4th Edition.

That 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.

That the person listed in the letter is under the care of the assessing physician or mental health professional.


Lots of over-entitled people who may want to bring animals on-board free of charge will be stopped when they have to acknowledge having a mental health disability.
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