You may have noticed updates to your favorite U.S. airline’s service animal policy recently.
There’s a reason for that. Earlier this summer, the Department of Transportation released a statement of enforcement priorities for service animal regulations, and airlines have been evaluating and updating their policies to get into line with the DOT’s guidance. Now, it appears that most big U.S. airlines have begun posting updates to their policies that mirror the latest DOT update.
In general, emotional support animals are more heavily regulated than service animals (for more on the distinction, and emotional support animal-specific guidance, check out our guide).
For service animals, only dogs, cats and miniature horses are recognized. The DOT does not allow airlines to bar entire breeds, but carriers do have the latitude to refuse a specific animal if it is deemed to be acting aggressively or pose another safety threat.
Under the DOT guidance, airlines are permitted to request documentation proving that an animal is certified as a service animal, and companies are also allowed to question passengers about their need for animal assistance if their disability is not apparent to ground staff. However, carriers cannot set limits to the number of service animals permitted on any given flight.
Featured photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images.