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Crossing the line? Rights of UA passenger when animals are on the flight.

Crossing the line? Rights of UA passenger when animals are on the flight.

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Old Oct 28, 17, 10:14 am
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Crossing the line? Rights of UA passenger when animals are on the flight.

Hello all,
I want to share my experience on flight UA1137 from LGA-DEN on 25-OCT-2017. Please see attached two pictures. No identifiable (facial) information there for privacy.

Considering the length of the segment (approx 4.5 hours) I upgraded my flight with an RPU to First Class. However, the passenger next to me, I believe, really crossed the line by bringing in a large, furry pet dog masquerading as a service dog, which was intruding my space, sniffing, sneezing, shivering, making some weird noises, and trying to lick me. You can tell it is an untrained dog and not really a service animal. In the past, I have had experience with genuine passengers bring in genuine service animals notably in the bulkhead seats and have had no problems whatsoever travelling along them. They were well trained, docile, and does not try to interfere other people's space. However, it was not the case here. It was a REALLY BAD experience.

The passenger boarded a bit late just before boarding was complete. All other first class seats were taken as many were offered CPU. She did not have any apparent disability - she was browsing on her smart phone all throughout (not blind), listening to music (no hearing impairment), carried a huge carry on (no physical challenges).

I have a special needs disabled son, so I know a thing or two about physical and psychological disability. I am a lifelong vegetarian and an animal lover too...but when United turns a blind eye to people abusing the service dog policy by bringing in large, untrained pets as service dogs to avoid cargo hold, it is really crossing a line and when it puts my 4.5 hour journey into a terrible misery.

I hope United makes changes to its policy to stop such abuse.

thanks for your time!
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Last edited by surram; Oct 28, 17 at 5:54 pm Reason: Cropped the image to further enhance privacy
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Old Oct 28, 17, 10:19 am
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Originally Posted by surram View Post
I hope United makes changes to its policy to stop such abuse.
It's not United, it's the federal government.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 10:23 am
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Both of the people are pretty recognizable.

This s a common problem with animals. Until a real verification system is put in place, nothing is going to change.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 10:28 am
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
It's not United, it's the federal government.
Last I checked was it was due to ADA...but the airlines still have the right to verify if it was a genuine need and ask for supporting documentation. And can decide if it meets the standards of disability. Heck, the gate agents have rights to call security to arrest you, even if you mildly disagree with them.

What rights do I have as a passenger if I don't want to fly next to an animal? What if I am allergic to dogs or cats? Will United downgrade me to Economy if there was a seat available? or do I have to give up my seat and be stuck in the airport?
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Old Oct 28, 17, 10:34 am
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It does not appear to be a service animal. Rather, an emotional support animal.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 10:35 am
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
Originally Posted by surram View Post
I hope United makes changes to its policy to stop such abuse.
It's not United, it's the federal government.
As such, such discussions are generally moved to TravelBuzz and threads such as
The Definitive Discussion of Emotional Support Animals on Airlines

Fake Service Dogs

So for those wanting to discuss the general topic of ESA ("Emotional Support Animals"), please head off to one of the above threads. Such posts here will be removed.

Passenger rights / what UA will do if you don't want to sit near the animal, are valid for the UA forum.

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Old Oct 28, 17, 10:37 am
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Originally Posted by surram View Post
Last I checked was it was due to ADA.
I don't think the ADA applies to airlines. I believe it's actually the ACAA.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 10:51 am
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Originally Posted by surram View Post
Hello all,
I want to share my experience on flight UA1137 from LGA-DEN on 25-OCT-2017. Please see attached two pictures. No identifiable (facial) information there for privacy.

Considering the length of the segment (approx 4.5 hours) I upgraded my flight with an RPU to First Class. However, the passenger next to me, I believe, really crossed the line by bringing in a large, furry pet dog masquerading as a service dog, which was intruding my space, sniffing, sneezing, shivering, making some weird noises, and trying to lick me. You can tell it is an untrained dog and not really a service animal. In the past, I have had experience with genuine passengers bring in genuine service animals notably in the bulkhead seats and have had no problems whatsoever travelling along them. They were well trained, docile, and does not try to interfere other people's space. However, it was not the case here. It was a REALLY BAD experience.

The passenger boarded a bit late just before boarding was complete. All other first class seats were taken as many were offered CPU. She did not have any apparent disability - she was browsing on her smart phone all throughout (not blind), listening to music (no hearing impairment), carried a huge carry on (no physical challenges).

I have a special needs disabled son, so I know a thing or two about physical and psychological disability. I am a lifelong vegetarian and an animal lover too...but when United turns a blind eye to people abusing the service dog policy by bringing in large, untrained pets as service dogs to avoid cargo hold, it is really crossing a line and when it puts my 4.5 hour journey into a terrible misery.

I hope United makes changes to its policy to stop such abuse.

thanks for your time!
The second picture alone would have had me in that girls face telling her to get her dog under control. That is unacceptable on it's own without your descriptions of what was going on. No need for you to be docile and appearing to accept it. Did you confront the girl? Did you say anything to anybody? Did you talk to the FA? Write into the DOT about the abuse of the ESA guidelines. Don't know what it would do but it would get it on record.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 10:52 am
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Originally Posted by surram View Post

What rights do I have as a passenger if I don't want to fly next to an animal? What if I am allergic to dogs or cats?
You can take the next available flight.

The ACAA was written to make sure that access is granted disabled passengers. Your minor inconvenience doesn't trump their access. The FAA has interpreted the ACAA to apply to comfort animals, not just service animals.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 11:23 am
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I agree the dog is annoying,
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Oct 28, 17 at 7:29 pm Reason: moot after edit of the photos
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Old Oct 28, 17, 11:24 am
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United's Problem not Yours!

Originally Posted by Baze View Post
The second picture alone would have had me in that girls face telling her to get her dog under control. That is unacceptable on it's own without your descriptions of what was going on. No need for you to be docile and appearing to accept it. Did you confront the girl? Did you say anything to anybody? Did you talk to the FA? Write into the DOT about the abuse of the ESA guidelines. Don't know what it would do but it would get it on record.
So write to United and make it known that their agent probably failed to screen this customer.

I fly a lot out of SFO and the check in agents there do a great job of making sure the documentation is up to date and correct. I've seen them turn away passengers. But in LAX I've seen check in agents not even ask for proof. So its definitely united problems.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Oct 28, 17 at 11:35 am Reason: OT content removed
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Old Oct 28, 17, 11:25 am
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Originally Posted by PsuedoEuropeanGuy View Post
....
So write to United and make it known that their agent probably failed to screen this customer.

I fly a lot out of SFO and the check in agents there do a great job of making sure the documentation is up to date and correct. I've seen them turn away passengers. But in LAX I've seen check in agents not even ask for proof. So its definitely united problems.
I think it's very easy to get that "documentation".

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Oct 28, 17 at 11:36 am Reason: quote updated to reflect Mod edit
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Old Oct 28, 17, 11:41 am
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I would love to sit next to that dog, some people have all the luck
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Old Oct 28, 17, 12:38 pm
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I am confused on the pictures.

Is OP the pax in row 2 aisle? If so, who took the picture.

If not, what is he talking about?

I have a real issue with faux emotional support animals. But I would simply kick them out of my feet area if they encroached, The jeans guy seamed happy with the dog.

P.S.: I actually like dogs and would not be literally kicking it out of the way.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 12:55 pm
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Originally Posted by chavala View Post
I think it's very easy to get that "documentation".
True. But one time the SFO agent called up the "doctor" who wrote the letter for the customer at an adjacent counter. Not sure, what happened but she was denied boarding.
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