Ridiculous or not? Your pet isn’t welcome on board this summer

This was supposed to be the best summer ever for pets that fly.

Pet Airways, the upstart air carrier for animals, is just starting to hit its stride. It recently added flight to Orlando and St. Louis, and its revenues more than doubled from a year ago. Not too shabby!

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Several airlines have also introduced pet-friendly promotions, most notably JetBlue Airways, with its quirky JetPaws program, which is now in its third summer.

Even the airlines that weren’t exactly pet-friendly appear to have gotten in touch with their animal side. Sure, there are still sporadic pet deaths — here’s a site that tracks them closely — but it’s nothing like it was a few summers ago, when animals were routinely dying the cargo hold, and often under tragic and inhumane circumstances.

So why has this summer gone to the dogs?

Maybe we’ve gone a little overboard, when it comes to animals flying. A recent question from a reader made me jump to that conclusion. He was on a JetBlue Airways flight from Tampa to Boston, seated close to a dog that barked nearly continuously for three hours.

“It was such loud barking that it made me feel bad for the poor dog as well as for all of us passengers who had to endure the misery of listening to its ear-piercing barking from the moment the dog boarded until we got off the flight,” he remembers.

Shouldn’t JetBlue have done something about the yelping canine? I reviewed the JetPaws program and the airline’s site, and could find no requirement for pet behavior. Clearly, the cabin crew should have spoken with the dog’s owners, but once the aircraft door is sealed shut, your options are limited.

To get an idea of what going too far in the other direction might look like, consider what happened to one passenger on a recent Continental Airlines flight. The airline, which just merged with United Airlines, claims to be pet-friendly, but if the aircraft is more than 75 percent booked, it won’t allow your dog or cat to fly.

The problem? Many times during the year all flights are better than 75 percent booked, “especially the summer months,” said one disgruntled passenger. “They will not allow you to book your pet until 72 hours prior to the flight. This makes it near impossible to ever get a pet onboard a plane during the summer months.”

Although United’s traveling with pets page makes no mention of the 75 percent rule, it has some more bad news for passengers with dogs. There’s a “summer embargo” on certain breeds, including the Boston Terrier, Pug and Shih Tzu as either checked baggage or cargo, “for the safety of your animal.”

As a longtime observer of the airline industry, these developments suggest to me that despite the recent rhetoric, there is no good time to travel with a pet. In fact, if your dog could talk, I’m sure he’d tell you he wants to stay at home — with you.

Sure, you’ll always find people who have little choice but to fly with an animal. If you’re relocating to another part of the world, bringing Fido or Fluffy in the cargo hold might be the only practical way of taking your pet. I understand that.

But there’s no “good” time to travel with a pet, and if there were, it certainly wouldn’t be the summer.

And that makes me wonder if United isn’t on to something. Should pets, and particularly pets in the cargo hold, be limited to times when temperatures aren’t extreme and cabins are less crowded, like the fall and spring?

Should pets be allowed to fly at all, or should airlines have a “humans-only” rule?

83 thoughts on “Ridiculous or not? Your pet isn’t welcome on board this summer

    1. Ban intolerant, selfish and judgmental people first.

      You don’t know what is really going on for that family with a seemingly uncontrollable child. If you were a decent human being you would feel mostly sympathy and concern and any frustration you might feel would only be a fleeting thought.

      1. Wow, Caitlin, those pregnancy hormones must be really raging.

        I agree with Martha, I’ve never been on a flight where a dog bothered me. Never. On an overnight flight once I only found out the people across the aisle from me even had a dog with them was when they disembarked.
        Children on the other hand… let’s just say I always find out they’re there. Whether they’re being loud, kicking my seat, crying or running around, they make their presence known.

        If we’re going on what bothers people the most, ban children first.

        1. Coincidentally the only time my at the time infant child was inconsolably crying on an airline flight was when the person in the seat behind her had a small dog stowed directly under my child’s seat.  The dog was barking and setting of my kid, which probably set off the dog.  

          I don’t mind small dogs as carry on, but don’t really see how to solve the above situation when it occurs.  I’m pretty sure you can’t put the dog in the overhead or keep it in your lap, so how do you deal with a loud dog?

        2. I am not pregnant and it would be irrelevant if I were. Really, it is astonishing that you think that making a condescending and baseless comment about “pregnancy hormones” is in any way ok. Clue: It’s not. 

          I don’t have a strong opinion about pets on flight. I don’t recall ever flying with someone’s pet. So clearly if I’ve flown with someone’s pet it was not a problem. I don’t have a dog in that fight. 😉

          However I do have a problem when people try to link the issue of pets and children or pets and fat people or pets and Muslims or any other type of people for that matter. Banning any type of human on the basis of who they are is discrimination. We should not be going on what bothers people the most if it means taking rights away from other people.

          I am yet to have the pleasure of flying with a baby or small child but no doubt my time will come. I hope that my babies/kids will not be too disruptive and will certainly try my best.

          However, I’ve always been aware that putting up with the normal behaviour of other passengers, young and old, is part of the package of flying. (And it’s normal for a baby to cry or a child to have difficulty sitting still). If I don’t want to put up with it then I should be the one who doesn’t fly, not the other person.

          I have a problem with the “ban kids” mentality whether it is a serious complaint or a throwaway comment. Said enough times and it gains legitimacy. I hear Malaysia Airlines has just banned kids from first class.

          This is an excellent post on the topic (not by me).http://www.becomingcrunchy.com/2011/07/people-officially-suck/

      2. How about we ban self-righteous, holier than thou people as well Caitlin.

        I’m so tired of hearing “do it for the children” sob stories like this. “You don’t know what’s going on in that family” and “be a decent human being” aren’t valid arguments for disliking parents who wont control their children. Furthermore, I’m tired of people like YOU trying to make people feel ashamed because we expect parents to discipline their children.

        Children act up on occasion, we know this, but there is no excuse for parents who let their children disrupt public environments and make travel (or any other public venue for that matter) unbearable for those around them.

        1. I am sure that sometimes kids can be disruptive and that sometimes parents won’t or can’t control them. But as a frequent traveller (traveling without kids) I have observed this happening only very occasionally. I am not including infants crying, which is different both in its causes and solutions.

          Adults being annoying happens just as often, frankly. Men who spread their legs, passengers who hog the overhead bins, the list goes on and on.

    2. Martha, LeeAnne & the 20 (!!) other people who “liked” this – how about we ban ALL rude, drunk, loud obnoxious entitled adults first?

  1. I have said before there needs to be some restrictions on traveling with pets by either declaring pet zones or pet free zones.

    1. Put me in the “pet free” zone. I have allergies and cannot sit near them, do not go to homes that have them and will not allow one in my home.

  2. There should NOT be a “humans only” rule.  There are times when you simply have no other way to get your pet from point A to point B – as mentioned in the article, an example is when relocating.  Some relocations don’t have the option of other travel means – driving across country, when you have children or a job to get to or whatever, is just not practical.  Or if you’re going overseas, or to Hawaii.  As a person with a pet, I could no more walk away from my dog than I could one of my children.

    There are also some animal rescue organizations that work with tourists to help transport animals to new adoptive homes.  For example, I was recently in Cozumel, Mexico, and there is a rescue group there that works with visitors to carry rescued dogs and cats along with them on their flights home, to give to families who will meet their new pet at the airport.  It’s a fantastic organization that has saved many neglected animals from a horrible life or early death, and brought joy to many animal-loving families.

    Agree that pet owners need to keep their pets from disturbing other passengers.  But I daresay I’ve been WAY more disturbed by unruly and ignored kids than I ever have by anyone’s pet.  I’ve certainly never had a pet kicking the back of my seat non-stop for 4 hours!  If they’re going to ban pets, ban kids.  (And I say this as both a pet owner AND a parent!)

  3. I have a horrible allergy to cats, and have ended up in the hospital when unknowingly entering a house with cats.  I am always very careful now.  I used to also always ask if there was a cat on my flight and make alternate arrangements.  I viewed this as my responsibility as I am the one with the problem.
    After reading a article about how powerful the air filters are on planes, and how high quality the filtered air is, and that a lot of fresh air is also brought in, I decided to no longer worry about this issue.  Recently I ended up on a plane with a cat in the row diagonally in front of me.  I pointed the air jet at my face so I would always get the clean air and fortunately, I did not have an asthma attack, and my allergies were in fact very minimal.
    I was quite impressed with how well the air is filtered in an airplane that I no longer fear flying with someone’s cat on the same plane.
    As for a barking dog, 6 hours of barking is far better than 6 hours of sitting near people who are disrespectful of other people’s personal space.  And my cheap foam in the ear headphones do quite well to muffle the barking, crying, and other in-flight sounds.

  4. This is an interesting question. Thinking back to the last 10 years, with hundreds of thousands of miles flow, I can’t recall ever having a “loud” pet. Numerous episodes of loud and obnoxious adults, some screaming children, but never a disruptive pet.

    Personally, I don’t understand why people want to travel with pets. The only time we have traveled with pets is for relocation purposes. Further more, many of the places we visit (ie National Parks) do not allow dogs. Thus, we have the pet sitter on speed dial.

    The problem I have are with entitled dog owners. The ones that blatantly violate the “no dogs allowed” signs in National Parks, let their dogs run off leash in public places, fail to clean up dog poop, and have no control over their dog. Then again, these are probably the same boorish, obnoxious jerks that you don’t want to sit next to sans pet.

    Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the owner.

  5. When people have to travel with a pet, they should set up an appt with their vet. In many situations, the vet will prescribe a mild sedative for the animal. This means that the animal won’t experience the normal stress that comes with any unknown situation. It keeps the animal safe and the humans sane. As far as I know, this is a vet recommended treatment for any long trip with an animal not used to travel. Honestly, it’s the only thing that kept me from throwing my sister’s cat out the window when I helped her move across the country.

    BTW, that is a really cute picture Chris.

    1. Kids too – if they’re going to fly, they need to be sedated for their own good
      and those of the other passengers.  The little ones, especially, aren’t able to
      yawn on command and even if they’re given a bottle, takeoff and landing really
      hurt their ears and make them scream, sometimes for hours. Perhaps the
      medication should be delivered by someone at the gate to make sure the parents
      don’t cheat. If you don’t agree to this, you child shouldn’t fly.

      1. I think we should also sedate talkative people – particularly those who are opinionated and say dumb things. 

      2. On sedating kids “for their own good”: Paediatricians don’t recommend it as it can be dangerous and doesn’t always work in any case (sometimes it can have the opposite effect). http://www.babycenter.com/404_is-it-safe-to-sedate-my-baby-for-travel_7263.bc

        The pain from take-off and landing doesn’t last that long. If they are screaming for the whole flight, it’s from other reasons.

        1. American doctors don’t like to sedate babies, but it’s common practice elsewhere and I believe that many European
          doctors recommend it.  I’ve noticed that the screaming babies on overseas
          flights are usually  American – judging by their parents, of course, not
          the accent in which they scream! 😉 I think they use something non-narcotic,
          like Benedryl, which also helps keep the babies’ ears from getting stopped up.
          No one – neither the babies themselves nor other passengers – should have to
          suffer if a solution is available. If parents prefer not to fly until their child
          can yawn on command, that’s OK too. The question of whether rowdy older
          passengers (including kids) should be sedated is quite a different one and I
          wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole!

      3. Very few people experience ear pains due to a decrease in air pressure, thus ear pain is only a real issue during the descend. And sedation would only make it worse because you swallow (i.e. equalise the pressure) more often when you’re awake.

    2. My daughter rescued a cat while in Mexico and she had the Vet prescribe something for the plane ride back home. It did make the cat lethargic and unwell during the trip. The Rx may have been a little too strong for her tiny little body but she is now one very happy kittycat.. It amazed me how supportive the crew and passengers were during the flight. 

  6. While I love animals, I think pets should not be allowed in the cabin.  I realize there is risk involved putting them in the cargo hold, but as indicated with the one example, what options are available if a dog won’t bark nonstop.

  7. For Continental’s 75% rule, that only applies to CARGO space booked, not the number of passengers booked.  And when shipping a pet as cargo, you have to wait until the airline knows how much free space will be available. Each CO flight has a set amount of the cargo hold reserved for cargo (not passenger bags).  If the hold is packed full, pets in carriers may not have enough air flow around them and the pet can die.  

    I have been on numerous flights where passengers have had carry on pets with them. I have never had any of those pets make enough noise to bother anyone.  It seems the Jetblue flight crew should have noticed the barking dog and asked the passenger to quiet it or get off the plane if the animal was making noise “from the moment the dog boarded.”

  8. With the obvious exception of service animals, I think the transport of animals and the transport of humans should be separate. If flight is only responsible for transporting your pet, it suggests greater attention paid to your pet (as opposed to having them treated as luggage). 

  9. The question posed did say children or pets, it just said pets.

    Pets should not be allowed in a closed environment with people for many reasons:  illnesses carried by animals, allergies, risk of injury, noise, etc.  Who knows what that animal may be infected with.

    This may be inconvenient for pet owners, but that is one of the choices you have to make.

    If other carriers want to start a service where people and pets fly together then fine. Make that the business and let people make their choice.

    But I don’t want to be forced to fly in a cabin with someone else’s pet.

    1. Huh? Air carriers require proof of rabies vaccination and a health certificate that you have to get a few days before you fly — by visiting a vet. Flying with a pet isn’t cheap. So they won’t have anything that humans can catch, and they’ll be up to date on all their shots.

      I’ve flown with my cat in the cabin. Nobody knew she was there until we were all getting off and I found there was someone traveling with a dog diagonally. Both were quiet the whole time…

      You aren’t allowed to take them out of their carrier once you are in the plane. So you shouldn’t have to worry about that scary animal getting anywhere near you. 

  10. A distinction should be made between pets in the hold and pets in the cabin.  I agree that if an airline can’t guarantee the climate of its cargo hold in winter or summer, it shouldn’t allow pets – but on the other hand, airlines should be able to make such a guarantee since extreme heat or cold can damage medication and many other things that are commonly placed in suitcases. And of course, if your pet is denied boarding the airline should refund the full cost of your ticket and those of anyone in your party, immediately and without complaint or fee. My chief problem with pets in the cabin is the extortionate fees charged – $200 for flights to Europe and 200 euros for flights to the US – even though the pet is placed under the passenger’s seat.  Yet babies can be carried on a lap, which is far more annoying to the person in the next seat, at no charge. Some of us do need to take our pets with us – for example, when we go overseas for months at a time – and the airlines should be required to allow this on the same basis as small children (since, in both cases, no extra seat is occupied) and to make ample provision to ensure that passengers with allergies are not seated next to the animal (cats, in my case) to which they’re allergic.  It’s not atom science but, like so many other aspects of air travel, it needs government regulation to overcome the greed and laziness of the airlines.

    1. The days of babies travelling at no charge are gone. Usually there is a fee, based on some percentage of the full ticket. Or so I’m told.

  11. Like emanon256, my wife is deathly allergic to any type of dander (dog or cat or fluffy bunnies). We wound up on a flight with a cat onboard two rows behind us.

    Needless to say upon arriving in Boston (from San Francisco) we had to go to the ER even after using the Epi-pen (don’t get me started on the TSA and the Epi-pen). 

    So your precious pet gets to fly but I can’t? I don’t think so.

    Don’t get me wrong we both love animals and wish we could have a dog or cat but at the cost of ER visits its not worth it. 

    1. Much like with peanut allergies, if you’re *that* allergic to dander, it sounds like you’re likely at risk regardless of whether a cat is actually on board or not.

      And if you’re that much as risk, why are you even boarding a plane knowing that a cat or dog could be aboard?

    2. If you were seated next to me, you’d probably end up in the ER too as I have six cats and probably carry some dander or hair on my clothes, even if it’s not visible.   So, banning animals really isn’t a solution to your problem.  It’s really up to the person with the allergy to deal with it, not the rest of us.  Sorry. 

  12. I am hyper allergic to all animals, my reaction can range from an asthma attack to swelling of the tongue and throat. I often worry when I board a plane that I will be seated near a pet on a full flight, would they ask me to leave of the animal. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals an wish I could own a dog, but I know there are others like me who don’t book hotel rooms that accept pets and worry when they fly….Joe A.

  13. As someone who has flown with a pet, I can tell you how absolutely miserable it is for both passenger and animal.  My mom has 2 cats and she paid extra to bring them both on the plane.  I sat for 8 hours listening to the poor cats meow….even with sedatives.  I could not relax because I was worried for other passengers who might have allergies to animals.  It was the most uncomfortable plane ride ever.  Not only that, but when you have you go through security, you have to take the animal out of the carrier and go thruogh the metal detector.  Not fun when you have a squirming cat in your arms that is not declawed.

    I love my mom’s cats, but I think that if we allow pets to fly it should be in the cargo area.  I would presume it is safe for the animal, but I know it is safer for the passenger.

  14. Airlines were designed for PEOPLE to fly, not pets.  If they can make it work, fine.  But please, don’t feel ‘entitled’ to fly with your pet iguana.  Cargo holds really aren’t designed for living animals – they’re for baggage and cargo.

  15. This is a touchy one for me.  I have a small dog with whom I’ve traveled on several occasions.  I will not put him in cargo because it is cruel & potentially deathly, so he sits in the cabin with me.  I don’t think it is ideal for him (or me for that matter – it is a huge hassle), but given that I used to live 1200 miles away from my family with whom I visited several times a year, I didn’t have a choice (one can beg pet sitting services from friends only so often).  Fortunately, he is very well behaved &, more often than not, brought smiles to my fellow passengers faces.  

    I have often wondered & worried about those who are allergic to dogs, but I saw no way around it except to make sure he received a thorough bath the night before. I’ve also thought that the scads of cat hair covering my clothes & luggage would be just as bad for allergy suffers.  

    Sadly, there is no ideal solution to travelling long distances with a pet.  I’ve driven when time allowed – I prefer it these days with how terrible flying is anymore.  That is not, however, a solution that can work in all instances.

    We must acknowledge that the US is a pet-crazy country whose critters are like kids to them.  I know a solution is out there that allows pets to fly in safety & comfort.  But I may as well wait for Santa to arrive for any ideas I think of requires the airlines to spend some money on retro-fitting their planes.  Yeah…that’ll happen.

  16. The question I have is regarding the number of pets in a cabin.  I was on a recent flight to Palm Springs and three couples in first class each had a small dog with them.  The kind that easily fit under the seat.  However, the rules apparently are that only ONE dog is allowed in first class while many more are allowed in coach.  It was quite the event watching the flight attendants deal with this situation which wasn’t their fault and which caused considerable distress/frustration/anger etc. among the pet owners.  But nobody could answer the question regarding why more dogs could be in coach versus first class.  Maybe somebody here knows?

    1. Because the airline says so.

      Each airline has their own rules for how many and what kind of pets are allowed.  Just like their fees, this is somehting that has no basis in reality, it is just what they decide.

  17. it’s called a kennel.
    if you can afford to take a vacation and buy a plane ticket, you can afford to set aside a few dollars each month to save up for a responsible kennel to watch your beloved pet.

    (i am not talking about moving here, or other situations. i’m simply talking about those going on vacation with their pets.)

    1. A kennel, yes, is a good idea when feasible.  Many pets don’t do well in kennels (mine won’t eat from the extreme stress of the loud, strange place).  Further, some people only make so much money.  To save up an additional sum of money that amounts to (on average) $40/day can force pet owners into not travelling at all.  

      It’s a hot topic which has no one answer that will please everyone.  But like congress, many refuse to see the other side’s point of view, ending in a stalemate that gets us nowhere.  A solution is possible if folks would step out of their narrow vision.  

    2. Do people really take random casual vacations with their pets???

      When I’ve flown with my cat, it was to drop her off for pet-sitting with my parents while I did international travel for work. I’d paid for the cat-sitting locally before, but she’d stop eating and all…. Not what you want your pet to do when you are going to be gone for several months. 

      I suspect pet-travel is mostly some variant of “pets going to new home”. Either an owner bringing a pet home from somewhere, or relocating. Whether it be temporary or permanent. 

    3. I refuse to stay in a hotel room that allows pets. I usually stay at timeshares where pets are forbidden. If you bring an animal the timeshare room has to be fumigated (and it will cost you, the owner, several hundred dollars).

  18. Some years ago I had a nightmare experience. My dog and I were flying back from living overseas. When I went to pick him up in baggage claim he was not there. I spent hours trying to locate him. It turned out he was never put on the airplane. He finally showed up 3 days later and was never the same. The airlines did nothing to compensate me for my time or the trauma my dog and family suffered.  

  19. At present the only means for pets to be transported is by airplane. Neither motorcoaches nor railroads transport pets (to me, transporting pets by railroad would be most humane as such pets could be placed in the baggage car and be regularly visited and walked at intermediate stations). Most local transit systems also ban pets, and many taxi drivers are at best reluctant to transport pets. While more affluent families may own, lease, or hire private motor vehicles in which pets may be transported, all other pet owners without access to private automobiles would be rendered completely immobile. To not permit pets to be transported by airplane means that pets will have to be destroyed when families move. Is the convenience of common carriers to not transport pets more important than the lives of those pets?

  20. The airlines need to start being more proactive about “emotional support animals.” I was forced to sit next to a woman with a her “ESA” which was a snake. Let me tell you…that was not a good flight.

    Apparently people have been lying to the airlines (GASP) about their “ESA”s to avoid pet fees and rules….who would’ve guessed.

    Oh, and if you can’t function in public without an “ESA”…don’t leave your house.

    1. Yes, they lie to us all the time. Usually we know, but if they have the documentation, there is nothing we can do. We HAVE to let them on.  It really super sucks, believe me.

      1. Yeah, I know, flutiefan. I just can’t believe anyone would have real documentation stating they have to with a snake at all times…

      2. You only think it sucks because you think it’s OK for the airlines to charge these outrageous fees for an animal that occupies no extra seat! The charge, if any, for a pet in the cabin should be the same as the charge for a baby – or perhaps less since the baby is held on a lap while the pet is out of sight under the seat.  And of course, the animal should stay in its case throughout the flight (unless, perhaps, a two-seat row is occupied by two people traveling together with a pet). 

    2. My wife is a licensed psychologist, and holds licenses and has practiced in several states and told me there is no such thing as an “Emotional Support Animal.”  There are service animals, which are specified by the ADA, but ESAs are a crock.  All Service Animals are trained to perform specific tasks, and per ADA are permitted anywhere the person can go.  Some could be seizure detecting animals or blood sugar level detecting animals, these may be small lap dogs, but they are all trained and regulated and will have a “Service Animal” vest and papers specifying their training.  ESA animals are simply made up, you can actually buy “Emotional Support Dog” vests on-line and the description says you can use it to allow your dog to fly for free.
      No licensed Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or any other MD or Psychotherapist could ever write documentation to support someone having an Emotional Support Animal without violating their license.  These animals simply do not exist nor should their owners be given any protections.
      I am very adamant about this issue as I was once bitten by a so called emotional support dog on a plane.  A woman had her dog with its little vest and said it was for emotional support.  When she got up to use the restroom she left the case open and the god went wild and started attacking my shoe.  Many flight attendants got involved and when the woman came back, she said, “Yeah he doesn’t like strangers.”  The flight attendant gave me a $250 voucher because of this, though I really think the woman should have been made to pay for new shoes.  This dog was clearly not trained and all service animals are trained.
      I know I’ll get some nasty responses by people who believe in ESA. I personally have a dog and love her, and in all honesty I feel emotionally better when she is with me. But that does not mean I should buy a fake vest so she can fly for free.  She doesn’t fly, and if she does, I make arrangements in advance and pay.  I could not sleep at night lying about her being an ESA, and legally there is no such thing as an ESA or any protection to allow people to bring the ESA with them on board. Any Dr. who tells you your dog is an ESA or sells you a vest or writes you a prescription for an ESA is clearly un-licensed or practicing outside of their area of competence.  Please do not confuse real service animals with quack Dr. mumbo Jumbo.

      1. From the ADA website:
        A “comfort”, “emotional support”, or “therapyanimal” that provides support simply by being itselfdoes not meet the definition of service animal. If theanimal is not individually trained to do work orperform a task, it is a pet under the ADA. Obediencetraining, by itself, is not a sufficient qualification.

        1. Are you sure about this? I hope you’re right.  But we’ve been told and trained that doctors and psychologists can provide documentation that an animal is an ESA, and we HAVE to take them if so.  These are not regular service animals (like seeing-eye dogs, for example), but if the document on legitimate letterhead (we once called and the doctor was like a podiatrist or dermatologist) stating that the passenger requires this animal for emotional support needs, then we cannot question them any further.

          This has been pounded into us by management.

          Oh, and people have made their own Service vests or bought them on eBay. I mean, really…

          1. 100% sure on both accounts.  My wife stated that writing such a letter violates both licensing guidelines and ethical codes. Anyone who does so could have their license suspended by the department of regulatory affairs.  Until it is considered a medical requirement such as seizure prevention, etc, an ESA pet of any kind is not protected by ADA, nor is it legal to prescribe.
            Here is the ADA specific wording regarding a service animalfrom the most recent iteration of the law.  Notice the last sentence:
            Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.ACTION: FINAL RULE ADA Title IIIADA Subpart A 36.104 Definitions
            Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

          2. And I bet they’ll tell me that we offer this as a “courtesy,” not an ADA requirement.

          3. I just found about 100 websites in one google search that sell “ESA” vests with the claim, “Guaranteed to avoid airline pet fees and regulations.”

        1. Did you deny her request to carry her “ESA” with her? I’m curious because all of these “ESA” sites tell people that the airlines cannot deny them their animal once they invoke “ESA.”

          1. oh yes we did! that is not considered legitimate documentation by a doctor or mental health professional.

      2. Excellent post. I was totally skeptical of these animals and it seems with good cause. I love my cat, my GF loves her cats, but the only time we flew with them was during a major cross country relocation. Thinking back on it, we probably should’ve just taken a few days driven. It was stressful on them, on us, and all the other PAX. 
        (Oh, and we paid the pet fee to transport them!)

      3. I always thought the ESA was a crock.  If someone needs an ESA, they should probably be put in the nearest nut house.

      4. I am 100% with you on this one. I am allergic to dogs; husband is allergic to cats. I work in theater and we allow “comfort” miniature “horses and dogs” — at one time they were thinking of allowing a “comfort snake” designation. I say HOGWASH. Stay home!!!!! You can buy those “fake saddles” and “cards” that designate such and it is just hogwash!!!!

    3. Was in a fancy restaurant and man (big man) had one of those teacup dogs under the table. Told hostess and we were moved. He left and was holding it under his chin. DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN BUY THOSE “SADDLES” on line to designate a “comfort animal?” Whether it is or not!

  21. How about the airlines requiring that pets carried in the passenger cabin be tranquillized by a vet immediately before they travel? Yes, it would be an inconvenience for the pet owner, but balance that against annoying a plane full of people.
    Though this wouldn’t solve all the problems, it would diminish them. And no, I wouldn’t extend this solution to small children.

    1. Apparently tranks can sometimes have the opposite effect. Opps.

      Or a bad effect…. 

      Really, when I was getting my pre-flight health certificate for my cat at the vet, I asked, and was told that they wouldn’t recommend it. It can cause more problems. 

      I’m not sure how you’d station a vet at the airport either…. 🙂

      1. Very true. It is not advised to drug pets for air travel, as I learned when I asked the vet before relocating cross country with animals.

  22. I would never trust an airline with making sure my small pets are cool and safe in the cargo hold. Fortunately, since they are small  they can travel on-board. But for owners of larger animals, it presents a real problem. There is NO EXCUSE for airlines to accept animals and NOT make sure they aren’t too hot or cold or out of water etc. As for the barking, i understand that would be a awful trip for everyone. Not unlike infants and toddlers screaming from the pain of air pressure changes.

  23. if I were flying some airline with some old lady’s yappy canine in the next seat, you can be sure that airline would be awarded with a lifetime ban.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but just because I don’t want to be by a yappy dog or get cat hair all over me doesn’t obligate me to come up with another solution for fluffy or fido.  Leave them at home.

    1. But Bill! We must think of someone’s autistic kid or someone’s depression or someone’s anxiety that REQUIRES them to walk around with a cat/dog/bird/snake at all times!

      If we don’t, we’re “violating” their “rights!”


      What about my right not to sit next to a whack job carrying a snake???

  24. If airlines are banning pets for the safety of the pet, wouldn’t it be in the passengers best interest to go with that and not transport their pet? Or are people so pretentious that they always know what’s best for their and everyone elses pets?

  25. Dogs and cats are a far more happy circumstance to encounter on a plane than a screaming child.  Who really needs to travel with a 9 month old kid…can’t you find a vacation spot within driving distance???

  26. I am allergic to dogs and my husband is allergic to cats. Cannot sit near them and am usually offered another seat (if I am seated near one). Why must people and their pets travel? Get a sitter at home, please.?

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