Thanks to new rules from the Department of Transportation, passengers hoping to traveling with emotional support animals may no longer be allowed on commercial airlines.
According to a release from the U.S. DOT, the new and revised rule from the Air Carrier Access Act defines a service animal as "a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability,” noting that emotional support animals do not fall under the service animal category.
The new rules are divergent from policies issued in 2019, stating that an airline could not discriminate against passengers travelling with emotional support animals, and could not ban certain breeds or species.
Individual airlines will have the right to set their own policies regarding the DOT rules.
The new rules will go into effect 30 days after the ruling is published in the Federal Register
The new DOT rule will allow airlines to require people flying with a service animal to fill out a form up to 48 hours in advance of travel and the will require that the animal fit in the passenger's foot space.
“This is a wonderful step in the right direction for people like myself who are dependent on and reliant on legitimate service animals,” said Albert Rizzi, founder of My Blind Spot, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, told USA Today. He said some people “want to have the benefits of having a disability without actually losing the use of their limbs or senses just so they can take their pet with them.”
Additionally, flight attendants pushed for a change in policy regarding support animals.
“The days of Noah’s Ark in the air are hopefully coming to an end,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. Adding that several of her union’s members were injured by untrained pets.