On Dec. 2, 2020, the Department of Transportation (DOT) posted their final rule on “Traveling by Air with Service Animals.” The rule will allow airlines to treat emotional support animals as pets. The DOT acknowledged AAFA’s comments. They said they felt the rule will likely reduce the number of uncrated animals on planes, so that would reduce the number of potential allergic reactions and asthma episodes.
AAFA expressed support for the core proposal. But we are disappointed that the final rule did not include our recommendation that airlines provide reasonable accommodation for passengers with documented allergies or asthma. This would include seating any service animals, pets, or emotional support animals (for airlines that choose to permit them) at the safest possible distance in an airplane cabin.
We do believe preventing the abuse of service animal policies will reduce the risk of allergic reactions and asthma episodes. But AAFA will continue to push the DOT for reasonable accommodation for the asthma and allergy community.
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.
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!