Alaska Airlines announced at the end of December that it would no longer accept emotional support animals. Effective January 11, 2021, the airline will only let service dogs travel.

The company said that this change was to align with the new Department of Transportation (DOT) rules about service dogs and animals for travel. Alaska Airlines is one of the first airlines to announce changes to their policy following the DOT decision.

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“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, “Earlier this month the DOT said it will no longer require airlines to make the same accommodations for emotional support animals as is required for trained service dogs. Changes to the DOT rules came after feedback from the airline industry and disability community regarding numerous instances of emotional support animal misbehavior which caused injuries, health hazards, and damage to aircraft cabins.”

Emotional support animals will be treated as regular passenger pets. For guests that have booked travel with emotional support animals prior to January 11 for flights on or before February 28, they will be subject to the previous rules. No emotional support animals will be accepted after February 28, 2021.

Read more about the DOT rule changes in One Green Planet.

These new rules may impact individuals with mental illnesses who really benefit from having an emotional support animal. Individuals with anxiety, for example, may experience heightened stress while flying. Not being allowed to have their emotional support animal with them, may even make flying an impossibility.

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