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ARCHIVE: AA Emotional Support Animal / ESA Policy established 2018 (obsolete)

Old May 14, 2018, 1:35 pm
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Last edit by: JDiver
The US Department if Transportation (the FAAs parent agency) announced a new policy banning Emotional Support Animals (ESA) onboard December 2, 2020 (link). American Airlines has changed its policies to conform to the new USDOT / FAA policy as of 5 Jan 2021. Please see this thread for discussion.

Source:
OMAAT)

Summary:

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are no longer Service Animals

The DOT is no longer categorizing emotional support animals as service animals. Service animals are being redefined, and have new restrictions:
  • Airlines may limit service animals to dogs, may limit each traveler to two service animals, and may require service animals to fit on their handlers lap or within their handlers foot space on the aircraft
  • Service animals have to be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability
  • Airlines can require passengers to remit a completed hardcopy or electronic version of the DOTs Service Animal Air Transportation Form as a condition of transport

Airlines can start charging for emotional support animals, and restrict them

The biggest implication of this policy change is that emotional support animals are now going to be categorized as pets, rather than service animals. What does this mean?
  • Airlines will be able to charge travelers for their ESAs, rather than having to allow them on for free
  • Not just that, but airlines can apply their weight and size limits to ESAs going forward; for example, most US airlines only allow in-cabin pets weighing up to 20 pounds, so airlines could apply those restrictions


For general discussion on the new FAA policy, please see the current thread in TravelBuzz:
https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travelbuzz/1733424-definitive-discussion-emotional-support-animals-airlines.html


AA policy for Emotional Support Animals (ESA) allowed onboard as of 1 July 2018.
(For tickets issued on or after July 1, 2018, emotional / psychiatric support animals must meet a set of enhanced requirements, detailed here.)

MODERATOR GUIDEPOST: This thread is strictly moderated and limited to practical discussion of new AA policies regarding psychiatric and emotional support animals and personal experiences on / relating to AA specifically. This is not the forum to discuss general flying animal issues (e.g. whether or not animals should be permitted in cabins, what constitutes a service animal or an emotional support animal, etc.

Posts with referrals to sites offering spurious ESA documents, discussion best suited to OMNI, attacks against members or those with ESA / PSA meeting the AA guidelines, among others, will be considered dilatory to this and will be subject to summary deletion.
Policies covering trained service animals used by people with visual or hearing impairments, seizures or mobility issues will not be affected.

Link to new policy on aa.com.

Link to forms required for Emotional or Psychiatruc Service Animals.

In part:

Emotional support and psychiatric service animals

Emotional support animals provide emotional, psychiatric or cognitive support for individuals with disabilities. Specific disability training isnt required for animals to meet this classification.

Advance notice required

To travel with an emotional support and psychiatric service animal in the cabin, you must contact the Special Assistance Desk with all required documentation at least 48 hours before your flight.

Documentation validation will include American Airlines contacting your mental health professional.

Forms required for travel

Service animals

On flights over 8 hours, documentation is required stating your animal wont need to relieve itself or can do so in a way that doesnt create a health or sanitation issue.

Emotional support and psychiatric service animals

The emotional support and psychiatric service animal document packet contains instructions and 3 forms that are necessary for approval to fly:
  • Mental Health Professional Form
  • Behavior Guidelines
  • Animal Sanitation During 8+ Hours Form (only required if your flight is scheduled to be over 8 hours)

Banned animals include Amphibians, Ferrets, Goats, Hedgehogs, Insects, Reptiles, Rodents, Snakes, Spiders, Sugar gliders, Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, & birds of prey), Animals with tusks, horns or hooves (excluding miniature horses properly trained as service animals), Any animal that is unclean / has an odor.

Forms and further information can be downloaded from or seen here.

Link to Chicago Tribune article

Link to Dallas News article

Link to blog article on One Mile at a Time







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ARCHIVE: AA Emotional Support Animal / ESA Policy established 2018 (obsolete)

Old Jan 19, 2015, 4:34 pm
  #1  
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ARCHIVE: AA Emotional Support Animal / ESA Policy established 2018 (obsolete)

For this new thread, a reminder to all:

MODERATOR GUIDEPOST: This thread is strictly moderated and limited to practical discussion of new AA policies regarding psychiatric and emotional support animals and personal experiences on / relating to AA specifically. This is not the forum to discuss general flying animal issues (e.g. whether or not animals should be permitted in cabins, what constitutes a service animal or an emotional support animal, personal anecdotes about falsely documented ESA, etc.) Please direct those broader discussions to the appropriate forum.

Posts with referrals to sites offering spurious ESA documents, discussion best suited to OMNI, attacks against members or those with ESA / PSA meeting the AA guidelines, among others, will be considered dilatory to this and will be subject to summary deletion.
This thread is purely about practical matters regarding the transport of ESA / PSA animals by American Airlines.

Thanks,

/Moderator
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Last edited by JDiver; May 14, 2018 at 2:08 pm
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Old May 14, 2018, 1:07 pm
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AA Announces New Emotional Support Animal / ESA Policy 1 Jul 2018

Chicago Tribune running a story AA drastically curtailing bringing on emotional support animals if you care to look for it.
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Old May 14, 2018, 1:09 pm
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Link to aforementioned story: American Airlines bans emotional support amphibians, ferrets, goats and more - Chicago Tribune

Amphibians, ferrets, goats, hedgehogs, insects, spiders, snakes, rodents and sugar gliders are among the creatures banned by American for use as support animals. Non-household birds, as well as animals with tusks, horns and hooves are also grounded.
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Old May 14, 2018, 1:14 pm
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From the Tribune story:

The carrier also will require 48-hour advance notice of plans to fly with an emotional or psychiatric support animal. Travelers will need to present a form signed by a mental health professional showing the disability involved, according to a post Monday on the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline's website. The changes take effect July 1.
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Old May 14, 2018, 1:16 pm
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If this results in even 1 fewer ESA pet in the cabin then its a win.
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Old May 14, 2018, 2:05 pm
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There was that recent flight on AA out of DFW where the couple each had their "service animals" .... and the LAX-JFK Transcon in business will never be the same!
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Old May 14, 2018, 3:50 pm
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This:

Originally Posted by ryan182
If this results in even 1 fewer ESA pet in the cabin then its a win.
Unfortunately, I don't really see much of a difference here from previous requirements.

Wasn't a mental health form required already? The other forms look to require approximately 5 minutes of incremental effort.

The forms say the animal will be denied travel if it "exhibits severely aggressive behavior." Otherwise it's fine and dandy, you just have to pay the pet fee? So a dog that takes a dump in the galley during the boarding process, or a dog that barks constantly for 5 hours are permitted as long as the owner coughs up $150 or whatever it is.


I'm also skeptical about how well this will be enforced. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

https://www.aa.com/content/images/tr...ion-packet.pdf

Last edited by aisleorwindow; May 14, 2018 at 4:19 pm
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Old May 14, 2018, 4:40 pm
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Originally Posted by aisleorwindow
Wasn't a mental health form required already? The other forms look to require approximately 5 minutes of incremental effort.
But it requires the form to be presented 48 hours prior to departure... which will allow legitimate ESA owners to comply and illegitimate ESA owners who just want to bring their pet on board will likely not follow those rules, and not be allowed boarding... fingers crossed.
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Old May 14, 2018, 5:55 pm
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I never heard of a "sugar glider" until today...
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Old May 14, 2018, 6:38 pm
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Originally Posted by bkafrick
But it requires the form to be presented 48 hours prior to departure... which will allow legitimate ESA owners to comply and illegitimate ESA owners who just want to bring their pet on board will likely not follow those rules, and not be allowed boarding... fingers crossed.
Yippee. Young hipster couple had a pit bull on a leash, muzzled (thank goodness), wearing one of those "fake" purchased on line, ESA collars (my perception) -- strolled on SAN - DFW A321 yesterday down the aisle into economy. I pity the passenger who had to sit by them. I like dogs but. . . I'd be shook having to sit by that animal for almost 3 hours, even muzzled.
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Old May 14, 2018, 7:34 pm
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Originally Posted by bkafrick
But it requires the form to be presented 48 hours prior to departure... which will allow legitimate ESA owners to comply and illegitimate ESA owners who just want to bring their pet on board will likely not follow those rules, and not be allowed boarding... fingers crossed.
I'm pretty sure the 48 hour requirement was already in force. I knew someone that was looking into the ESA requirements and they mentioned that.
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Old May 14, 2018, 9:59 pm
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Plus, the forms are a completely specious gating attempt. Is there anyone reading this who is unable to produce one using, say, MS Word? Back in the days of APEX fares which could be cancelled/refunded with a doctor's note, someone I knew who owned a travel agency printed up a bunch of doctor's letterhead, using different names, specialties, etc. Never questioned or verified by an airline. Not once.
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Old May 15, 2018, 1:51 am
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From the Tribune story:

Unlike Delta Air Lines and Chicago-based United, American won’t require passengers with support or service animals to submit animal health and vaccination forms.

I think they dropped the ball on this part. They should be requiring vaccination forms.
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Old May 15, 2018, 7:02 am
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Originally Posted by clbish
From the Tribune story:

Unlike Delta Air Lines and Chicago-based United, American wont require passengers with support or service animals to submit animal health and vaccination forms.

I think they dropped the ball on this part. They should be requiring vaccination forms.

Definitely dropped the ball if true. Before my dog passed, I had to provide vaccination and health forms every 12 months just to take her to the groomers. Sad if an airline requires less. (Never took my dog flying, either. Just sayin.)
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Old May 15, 2018, 8:03 pm
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Originally Posted by aisleorwindow
This:



Unfortunately, I don't really see much of a difference here from previous requirements.

Wasn't a mental health form required already? The other forms look to require approximately 5 minutes of incremental effort.

The forms say the animal will be denied travel if it "exhibits severely aggressive behavior." Otherwise it's fine and dandy, you just have to pay the pet fee? So a dog that takes a dump in the galley during the boarding process, or a dog that barks constantly for 5 hours are permitted as long as the owner coughs up $150 or whatever it is.


I'm also skeptical about how well this will be enforced. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

https://www.aa.com/content/images/tr...ion-packet.pdf
Anyone can fly with their dog if they're willing to pay the fee, correct? (As long as it falls within the size limitations)

Isn't the point of the esa "scam", that you can get a waiver on the pet fee if you're claiming it's an ESA?
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