Alaska Airlines announced last week it was implementing a new emotional support and psychiatric service animal policy.
Starting with passengers who purchase tickets on or after May 1, all travelers flying Alaska with emotional support animals must provide health and behavioral documents and a signed form from a doctor at least 48 hours in advance of their departure.
Alaska officials revealed that passengers need to properly fill out and submit the Animal Health Advisory, Mental Health and Animal Behavior forms, as well as have control of the well-behaved animal at all times.
The new policy does not apply to traditional service animals.
“Alaska is committed to providing accessible services to guests with disabilities and ensuring a safe environment for all flyers,” Alaska director of customer advocacy Ray Prentice said in a statement. “We are making these changes now based on a number of recent incidents where the inappropriate behavior of emotional support animals has impacted and even injured our employees, other guests and service animals.
“Most animals cause no problems,” Prentice said. “However, over the last few years, we have observed a steady increase in incidents from animals who haven't been adequately trained to behave in a busy airport setting or on a plane, which has prompted us to strengthen our policy.”
The decision to change the existing policy comes after a massive influx of emotional support or psychiatric service animals traveling on Alaska flights, including an estimated 150 animals being transported per day.
Travelers who do not submit the proper paperwork in a timely fashion will have the chance to fly with their pet under existing policies for travel in the cabin or in the temperature-controlled cargo compartment. Existing fleet standards, breed restrictions and health certificate requirements still apply.
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