January 8, 2019 Photos by: IanC66/Shutterstock
Almost a year ago, United Airlines made the headlines because they drew the line at what qualified as an emotional support animal. They prohibited a passenger from bringing a peacock on board, saying that it couldn’t possibly be a valid emotional support animal.
Now, in the wake of Delta Airlines recently changing their emotional support animal policy, United has decreed that from January 7, 2019 on–only cats and dogs will be allowed to fly as emotional support animals. As far as service animals in general, they are only considering dogs, cats and miniature horses, just as Delta is.
United has also said that emotional support cats and dogs will only be allowed on flights that are under eight hours, as they’ve seen onboard incidents increase on longer flights that have those animals. They believe this is due to the extended amount of time the animals are subjected to being in the cabin of the plane, and want to take care of their furry passengers too.
A final change in their policy involves the allowing of kittens or puppies under four-months-old being considered as emotional support animals, in-cabin pets or service animals on any flight. They believe that animals under that age have not been sufficiently vaccinated to be safe for others, nor have they had enough training to constitute the rigorous standards that go into support animal training.
If you’ve already booked a flight before January 3, 2019 that will include any animals the change affects, you will still be able to fly, provided you can still show the proper documentation and the animal falls under the previous policy guidelines. The airlines say this is part of their ongoing efforts to ensure the well-being of their employees and customers at the same time they make accommodations for passengers with disabilities.
So leave your bearded dragons, sloths and peacocks at home.
Lori Ennis is a wife, mama and friend to all animals. A self-confessed “Hot Mess,” she lives wherever the Marine Corps takes her husband. Currently, that’s Maryland with her very spoiled Labrador Retriever-mix rescue pups and a ton of saltwater fish just tanking around. Lori’s family has fostered dogs for years, mostly Golden Retrievers, and knows no home is complete without an animal buddy (or seven)!