American Airlines announced forthcoming changes to its policies and procedures for travel with emotional support animals and service animals, aligning with regulations recently issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
The new policies and procedures are intended to support customers with disabilities and the service animals that travel with them, as well as the team members who work to keep customers safe.
The DOT’s new rule defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability — a narrower definition than in the past.
When the rule goes into effect Jan. 11, American will no longer authorize new travel for animals that do not meet that definition, such as emotional support animals. Existing bookings involving emotional support animals will be honored through Feb. 1, when the airline’s new policies go into effect.
Starting Feb. 1, to ensure accessible travel for individuals with disabilities while protecting the safety and well-being of customers and team members, American will ask customers traveling with service animals to complete a DOT form attesting to the dog’s behavior, training and health.
The airline will require this form to be submitted electronically 48 hours in advance of a flight, unless the reservation is booked within 48 hours of travel. A service animal’s authorization will be valid for one year or until the expiration of its vaccinations.
American is reaching out to customers who are expected to be impacted by these changes.