With new regulations recently issued by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), American Airlines announced that support animals would not be allowed to fly unless they meet the new definition of a service animal.
The DOT 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.
Existing bookings involving emotional support animals will be honored through February 1, when the airline’s new policies go into effect.
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The new policy 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.
“Our team is motivated by a purpose to care for people on life’s journey, and we believe these policy changes will improve our ability to do just that,” said Jessica Tyler, President of Cargo and Vice President of Airport Excellence for American Airlines, in a press release.
Starting February 1, customers traveling with service animals will be required to complete a DOT form attesting to the dog’s behavior, training, and health. The form must 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.
“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.”