Following recent changes to US Department of Transportation (DoT) rules, Alaska Airlines will stop allowing emotional support animals on flights booked after January 11, 2021. Exceptions will apply only to service dogs, which meet specific training criteria, that help an individual with physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental disability.
“Alaska Airlines will no longer accept emotional support animals on its flights. Effective Jan. 11, 2021, Alaska will only transport service dogs, which are specially trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability,” the statement reported.
Changes to DoT rules came after the negative feedback from the airline sector regarding animal-related disturbances onboard, damage to aircraft cabins or health hazards. Alaska Airlines became the first US air carrier to follow the recent DoT ruling.
“This regulatory change is welcome news, as it will help us reduce disturbances onboard, while continuing to accommodate our guests traveling with qualified service animals,” said Ray Prentice, director of customer advocacy at Alaska Airlines.
A final DoT ruling that amended its Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA) on December 2, 2020, granted the US airlines the power to classify emotional support animals as pets rather than service animals. Only dogs that meet special training criteria would be allowed and considered as service animals.
Until the recent changes, the DoT had not defined what constitutes an emotional support animal. Therefore, all service animals, such as pigs, rabbits or snakes were federally required to be allowed onboard.
Alaska Airlines passengers who book their flight before January 11, 2021, will be allowed to bring their emotional support animals until February 28, 2021.