MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Emotional support animals will no longer be allowed on American Airlines flights, unless as carry-on pets or in the cargo.
“We’re confident this approach will enable us to better serve our customers, particularly those with disabilities who travel with service animals, and better protect our team members at the airport and on the aircraft,” Jessica Tyler, president of cargo and vice president of airport excellence for American, said in a statement.
The carrier is adopting a Department of Transportation rule that takes effect next week. It defines a service animal as a dog trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, a narrower definition than in the past.
American said passengers with a service dog will need to complete a government form vouching for the dog’s health, training and temperament.
Other animals, including dogs not trained as service dogs, will only be able to fly in the cargo hold or a kennel that fits under a seat in the cabin. Either way, American will collect a pet fee ranging from $125 to several hundred dollars.
The airline said existing bookings involving emotional support animals will be honored through February 1, when the company’s new policies go into effect.
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The Transportation Department early last month said it was reversing its long-held position that required airlines to allow passengers to travel with emotional support animals as long they had note from a doctor.
The agency’s switch follows an increase in service animal complaints from passengers with disabilities, misbehavior by emotional support animals, a lack of clarity around the definition of “service animal” and disruptions caused by “requests to transport unusual species of animals onboard aircraft,” according to the DOT.
Airlines for years have struggled to contend with travelers who brought a menagerie of animals on board, including cats, turtles, pigs and other creatures.
The department estimated that under the new rules airlines will scoop up $59.6 million a year in pet fees.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)