Alaska Airlines bans most emotional support animals

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Better get that cat a bus ticket.

Alaska Airlines will stop allowing emotional support animals on flights booked after Jan. 11 — and will only allow trained service dogs to accompany their humans, the carrier announced Tuesday.

“Effective January 11, 2021, Alaska will accept only service dogs which are trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability,” the company said in updated rules posted to its website.

“Emotional support animals will no longer be accepted.”

Alaska is the first airline to ban support animals in response to the US Department of Transportation’s Dec. 2 decree that most “emotional support animals” do not qualify as service animals, USA Today said.

To fly, service animals must be “specifically trained to help a person with a “physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental disability,” according to the new rules.

Airlines Service Animals

AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File

Dogs and their owners allowed to sit together on flight

Dogs and their owners allowed to sit together on flight

Photo by Richard Atrero de Guzman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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Airline officials and union leaders pushed for the regulatory change, which they said would help reduce animal-related disturbances, which have resulted in flight attendant injuries. Some disability advocates, meanwhile, argued that a broad definition service animal undermined those with legitimate needs for animal assistance.

“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,” Alaska Airlines rep Ray Prentice said in a statement.

Flyers with trained service dogs — including psychiatric service dogs — must submit a pre-flight DOT form “attesting to the dog’s health, behavior, and training,” according to Alaska’s new policy.

Passengers who book their trip before Jan. 11 will still be permitted to bring emotional support animals until Feb. 28, the company said.

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