Frontier may have animals on its livery, but you won’t find any in the cabin anymore. The airline is the latest in a slew of carriers to ban emotional support animals (ESA). JetBlue, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, and Spirit Airlines have also announced they will be banning ESAs. Currently, ESAs can travel on existing bookings before January 31st.
At the end of last year, the US Department of Transport (DoT) changed their stance on ESAs, so they are no longer official service animals. This effectively means they have the same legal standing as any other pet. As such, airlines can choose to ban animals from the cabin or charge accordingly.
The DoT examined the financial impact of transporting ESAs in the cabin and found that the airline pays the cost, not the passenger. Now, airlines have the choice of how they want to carry ESAs. So far, the overwhelming response has been to ban them from flights and carry them as pets in the hold.
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Frontier is still accepting ESAs on any existing booking for a flight before the end of the month. ESAs can only travel on flights operating before January 31st, which were booked before January 11th. This means that unless you have already booked your ESA companion on a Frontier flight, the ban is effectively in place. In a statement on its website, Frontier said,
“Effective January 11, 2021, the guidelines for traveling with a trained service animal have changed following the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rules on the topic. Only service dogs which are trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability will be accepted for travel.”
A controversial topic
ESAs have been a controversial subject for a while now. Unusual animals such as peacocks or small horses as well as badly behaved dogs and cats have meant many people have welcomed the new restrictions. One major appeal of the new rule is that official service dogs must be trained and well-behaved in order to fly, meaning less disturbance for crew and passengers.
The new rules should see a small increase in revenues for carriers as well. The cost of flying a pet across the states can be several hundred dollars. Passengers found a loophole by declaring their beloved pet an ESA and avoiding the fees. Now, passengers who want to bring their pet with them will have no choice but to pay the pet fee.
Although airlines seem very united in their decision to ban ESAs and many passengers will surely agree, there will likely be some people who do not agree with the new rule. Some unions and disability advocacy groups have already spoken out against the ban calling it unfair. However, more airlines will likely follow suit in banning ESAs that aren’t officially recognized as trained service dogs.
What do you think of all the airlines banning ESAs? Do you think exceptions should be made? Will more airlines introduce a similar ban?