Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Economy | By

American Airlines bans hedgehogs, goats and other comfort animals from flights

American Airlines bans hedgehogs, goats and other comfort animals from flights

"I can spot a fake emotional support animal a mile away", veteran flight attendant Heather Poole, author of "Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet", told NBC News.

Starting July 1, American Airlines passengers can not bring their goats or hedgehogs, spiders or sugar gliders, or any creatures with tusks, horns or hooves on board as service animals or for emotional support. "Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our customers, and working dogs onboard our aircraft", the airlines said in a statement. Miniature horses "that have been properly trained as service animals" are an exception to the last rule.

"We support the rights of customers...."

They say that employees have also been trained to ask questions of passengers to determine the animal's classification.


In addition to expanding the list of banned creatures, the carrier will also require a doctor's note for any animal. The use of such animals on flights has ballooned in recent years. Passengers were previously allowed to provide the documents the day of their flight. Owners must also vouch for the animal and that it won't have disruptive behavior such as growling or lunging at fellow travelers.

United Airlines had to make that decision back in January, when an emotional support peacock named Dexter was denied entry to a flight in Newark. American Airlines said that between 2016 and 2017, the number of customers transporting service or support animals aboard their planes rose by more than 40 percent.

Ferrets, amphibians, spiders, rodents, and snakes and other reptiles also are banned from the cabin "due to safety and/or public health risk", according to the policy. The carrier issued new guidelines Tuesday, clamping down on the types of service animals and therapy pets it will permit in the cabin, clarifying a previous policy that allowed passengers to board with any animal, from a pig to a peacock. Delta said that all passengers attempting to board with a service animal would have to show "proof", 48 hours in advance, that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated.

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