DOT Proposes New Rules for Animals on Planes

 

On Jan. 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released proposed rules on animals on planes. If they finalize these rules, airlines would no longer be forced to recognize emotional support animals as service animals and may treat them as pets.

Under the proposed rule, only qualified service dogs would be allowed on planes at no extra charge. Additionally, passengers with physical or psychological disabilities who need to bring a service dog into the cabin may have to fill out a new federal form attesting that it has been trained to perform tasks that address the disability.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has been advocating for equal rights for people with asthma and allergies on planes. We have also met with the DOT and airlines to discuss the need for rules that allow all people with disabilities (including asthma and allergies) to be treated fairly – not favoring one disability over another.

AAFA supports aligning the definition of service animals with the ADA’s definition of service animals (dogs and when necessary, miniature horses). Our hope is that this will reduce past abuses by pet owners of finding ways to travel with their pets in the airplane cabin, and thus, may reduce the amount of animal dander on planes. However, the proposed rules by the DOT still fall short of protecting the disability group that has life-threatening asthma or animal dander allergies. For some travelers who have asthma, traveling in a confined space in close proximity to an animal can trigger a life-threatening asthma attack. Up to three out of 10 Americans have a dog or cat allergy, and more than 25 million Americans have asthma. The current regulation does not provide enough recognition nor accommodation for this community.


In a New York Times article, Kenneth Mendez, CEO and president of AAFA, had the chance to speak about the rule on behalf of people with asthma and allergies:

...The proposed rules might help curb some of the abuses by people taking animals on airplanes and saying they were there for emotional support.

But you also have to take into account those passengers with asthma and allergies, and there is a growing number of animals on airplanes...

The DOT will be accepting comments on the proposed rule. We are working on AAFA’s full response to the DOT and will submit it when the public comment period opens. We’ll keep our community updated when it’s time to take action!

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Comments (9)

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I just want to thank the AAFA for their advocacy regarding the pet dander issue. I have allergic asthma and highly allergic to cat, dog, and horse dander. So much so, that my immunologist prescribed me an EpiPen after my allergy test results were revealed. Also, a few years ago, after being exposed in an airplane cabin to a dog that was shaking and being bounced around on someone's lap, I had to stop flying to the East Coast to avoid the dog dander allergen that triggers my asthma. 

Oh my gosh YES !!! Travelling with Asthma...

Animals checked onto planes have "bumped" me off intercontinental flights a number of times (even if I had reserved my ticket weeks or months before the animal owner!), as I don't want to have an acute asthma attack half-way across the Atlantic. I could easily die.  To add insult to injury, no compensation has ever been forthcoming from the airline for a hotel when the next flight was the next day.....

If airlines require animal owners to submit documentation minimum 48 hours before, then asthma and allergy sufferers should be able to submit their disability documentation when they reserve their airline ticket, and thus be able to make sure there will be no animals allowed on the flight, or be able to switch flights right away (if an animal is already registered) with no extra charge. 

There are lots of possible solutions, but all of these require airlines recognizing that asthma and allergy suffers have a REAL disability that can be life threatening, and that needs to be accommodated with the same rights as other disabilities. 

Hotels should also always guarantee permanently animal-free rooms. No matter how well a hotel cleans, it is not going to eliminate all animal dander. So not to have permanently animal-free rooms is discriminating against people with allergies to animal dander, just as not having a wheelchair accessible bathroom discriminates against people with mobility issues.

I also rent out two holiday homes on our farm in Tuscany, and have had to opt for a special rental/tax category that permits me to NOT accept animals, as normally vacation accommodations and hotels are obliged to be animal-friendly.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to further the interests/rights of asthma and allergy sufferers on public transportation, planes and in hospitality structures.

SFMG

 

Debsie posted:

Thank you so much for advocating for asthma/allergy sufferers regarding animals on planes. People with pets do not seem to realize that it is a matter of life or death for an allergy sufferer, like me, to be exposed to pet dander. Please let me know how I may help with this effort.

Also, I had to cancel my plans to two family weddings this past year, sadly, because the hotels offering accommodations for the wedding guests, as well as other hotels in the same towns, had "pet friendly" policies, and could not guarantee that no pets would have recently been in my reserved room. Is your organization also advocating for asthma sufferers to hotels and VRBOs? If so, how may I help in that effort?

Thank you, Deborah Belonick

 

Kathy P posted:

  @Chinarider10 - the public comment period is not open yet. We will keep everyone posted when that opens. Meanwhile, you can read the proposed rules (PDF).

It says directly at the top how the public can submit comments. What is the AAFA planning to do about this? I believe that the definition of service animal needs to be universal and that "emotional support animals" need to be eliminated. That said, if I can't have anything under my feat upon take off and landing, how is an animal, however well trained, going to react during a true flight emergency? 

Thank you so much for advocating for asthma/allergy sufferers regarding animals on planes. People with pets do not seem to realize that it is a matter of life or death for an allergy sufferer, like me, to be exposed to pet dander. Please let me know how I may help with this effort.

Also, I had to cancel my plans to two family weddings this past year, sadly, because the hotels offering accommodations for the wedding guests, as well as other hotels in the same towns, had "pet friendly" policies, and could not guarantee that no pets would have recently been in my reserved room. Is your organization also advocating for asthma sufferers to hotels and VRBOs? If so, how may I help in that effort?

Thank you, Deborah Belonick

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