AJC@ATL

News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

United tightening restrictions on emotional support animals


United Airlines is following Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines in tightening restrictions on emotional support animals.

The move by United comes after a high-profile incident in which a passenger tried to board a United flight with an emotional support peacock.

Chicago-based United's new policy is similar to some of the new requirements Delta announced earlier this month.

Starting March 1, United will require passengers with emotional support animals to provide confirmation that the animal has been trained to behave properly and "acknowledge responsibility for the animal's behavior," and must provide a health and vaccination form signed by a veterinarian.

The vet must also "affirm that there is no reason to believe that the animal will pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others on the aircraft or cause a significant disruption in service." That's in addition to the current requirement of a letter from a mental health professional.

United said it has seen a 75 percent year-over-year increase in emotional support animals, along with "a significant increase in onboard incidents involving these animals."

"We know that some customers require an emotional support animal to assist them through their journey, and we strive to provide the best possible service to everyone traveling with us," United said in its announcement.

United, however, does not plan to change its policies for service animals, which are trained to perform tasks for someone with a disability.

This week, industry group Airlines for America wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation asking it to revise its service animal guidance "to reflect air carrier duties to protect the health and safety of passengers."

"During the past several years, but in particular during the recent holidays, airlines have experienced a surge in passengers bringing animals onboard that haven't been appropriately trained as service animals," Airlines for America senior vice president of policy Sharon Pinkerton writes in the letter. "This has resulted in our crewmembers and passengers being bitten and subjected to other offensive and injurious behavior."

-- Stay up to date on the latest news on Atlanta airline travel by following  Atlanta Airport News Now on Facebook.

MORE:

Peacocks on a plane? Here’s Delta’s policy

After mauling, Delta tightens emotional support animal restrictions

Delta to stop accepting pets as checked baggage

Emotional support dogs in airline cabins get scrutiny

Delta passenger bitten by emotional support dog couldn’t escape, says attorney United is following Delta's lead and tightening restrictions on emotional support animals.


Reader Comments ...


About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.