The JetBlue laid out the new rules to tighten policy on emotional support animals traveling on planes. Airlines in recent years have seen a spike in the number of animals that are traveling as emotional support pets, which are not allowed in the cabin and can ride along for free.
In a statement, JetBlue (JBLU) said that the policy changes for emotional support animals “follow a dramatic increase in industry incidents involving emotional support animals that haven’t been adequately trained to behave in a busy airport or the confined space of an aircraft.” It creates health and safety risks for customers, crew members and other service or support animals.”
- Starting on July 1, the airline will need to bring complete three documents with animal at least 48 hours in advance of the trip.
- The documents include verification from a mental or medical health professional.
- The animal is really for emotional and psychiatric service, a veterinary health form for the animal, and “trained to behave appropriately in public.”
- Owners are responsible for injuries to others or damage to property.
- Only cats, dogs, and miniature horses are allowed on-board under the new policy.
- Hedgehogs, ferrets, rodents, snakes, spiders, reptiles and animals with tusks were had long been banned by JetBlue.
- JetBlue didn’t change its rules for service animals.
This animals help people with emotional, psychiatric or anxiety issues, including veterans with PTSD. They’re different from service dogs that help people with blindness and other disabilities. Previously, these policies only required 1 document confirming the passenger’s mental health requirements for an emotional support animal.
The spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants Taylor Garland said, “People have been abusing this category of animals — it’s essential to bring the family pet along,” said Garland. “This issue has grown so much over the last few years that it starts to legitimately affect the people who really do need these animals.”
Advocates for emotional support animals say allowing the pet on a plane may alleviate stress for the passenger. They have also said the new regulations are putting an unfair burden on people with legitimate emotional disabilities.
The American Veterinary Medical Association said in a statement, “While we appreciate the need of airlines to individually adopt policies that support good decision-making by their employees and safe travel for their passengers, the AVMA looks forward to furthering collaborative efforts with the airlines and the Department of Transportation to adopt consistent, evidence-based policy that supports the safe travel of these invaluable animals.”