American's New Support Animal Policy to Take Effect July 1

Flight attendant serving coffee aboard an American Airlines flight

Since more passengers are bringing pets with them for emotional support, American is clarifying what kinds of animals are allowed on board for that goal.

American Airlines reported an increase of more than 40% between 2016 and 2017. The new rules also follow several stories that have gone viral in recent months about passengers who tried to travel with their service peacocks or hamsters.

The airline unveiled a list of prohibited animals on Monday after it said a growing number of passengers have taken or attempted to take a range of animals on board planes for emotional support ― including a peacock, pig and hamster on other airlines.

The changes, which will go into effect on June 1, include requiring a minimum of 48 hours' notice that the support animal will be flying and proper documentation to allow the airline to contact the passenger's mental health professional for confirmation. Passengers with a support animal have always had to provide a letter from their mental health professional. But the problem isn't just the increased numbers - some travelers are trying to pass off pets as support animals, likely to avoid airline fees.

Bad news if you were planning to bring your emotional support goat for summer travels - American Airlines has banned the animals, along with a slew of other eccentric comfort critters, from traveling in its planes' cabins ahead of peak summer tourism season.


These are all common-sense rules, and they come as more cities try to tighten the regulations for service animals. "Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our customers and working dogs onboard our aircraft".

In developing the changes, the airline said it met with such organizations as the American Association of People with Disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Council for the Blind and My Blind Spot.

"We support the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs for a trained service or support animal", the airline said in a statement.

Animals that are growling, biting or attempting to bite or jumping or lunging at people in the gate area will not be allowed in the cabin, the airline said.

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