After a series of incidents, the airline industry has been largely cracking down on the presence of emotional support animals inside airplane cabins. JetBlue has recently updated their policy, requiring passengers to submit documentation regarding an animal’s fitness to be onboard, including proof of vaccinations. Additionally, they are limiting which species will be permitted.
Beginning on July 1, according to a report by SF Gate, the new policy will significantly restrict which kinds of animals can be brought onboard a JetBlue aircraft.
The old policy had very few limits, prohibiting animals like ferrets and hedgehogs. The new restrictions limit customers to only a few types of emotional support animals, including cats, dogs, and miniature horses.
Speaking as to why JetBlue will allow miniature horses to come onboard, Morgan Johnston, a company spokesperson, referred to new guidelines released by the US Department of Transportation in May.
Horses are recognized as service and support animals based on a 2010 court ruling relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The new requirements 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, which creates health and safety risks for customers, crew members and other service or support animals,” said JetBlue in a statement.
To travel with a support animal, JetBlue requires customers to inform the airline of their intention to fly with an animal at least 48 hours in advance. Additionally, the passenger must accept liability should the animal damage property or injure someone.
The liability clause resembles the one in use by United Airlines, though has tougher wording than that used by American and Delta airlines.
Changes to support animal policies began as more passengers took advantage of the fact that pet fees are waived for support animals, leading the number of customers attempting to bring them onboard to soar.
Additionally, support animals aren’t required to complete the same level of specialized training as those classified as service animals, such as guide dogs that assist the blind.
The US government is also considering new restrictions regarding support animals, though the exact nature of the potential requirements isn’t fully known.