DALLAS - No more emotional support goats, hedgehogs or insects on American Airlines flights, the company recently announced.
American, the world’s largest airline, announced Monday that goats, hedgehogs and insects can no longer be brought onto its planes for passenger emotional aid. Other pets on the no-fly list include ferrets, spiders and non-household birds like chickens or hawks. Unclean animals, or animals that have an odor, and animals with hooves, tusks or horns are banned too.
The airline said it has revised its emotional support guidelines. People wanting to fly with support animals now must file paperwork 48 hours before a flight and have a medical professional sign off on it.
American said it’s still okay for people with disabilities and legitimate needs to bring a trained service animal on board a plane. However, it is concerned that untrained animals pose a safety risk to crews, passengers and other working animals on a flight.
American said the number of customers bringing service or support animals onto flights rose by more than 40 percent between 2016 and 2017.
The airline says it met with a number of disability groups before crafting the new policy and says it hopes to protect its team members and customers, alike.
American isn’t the first carrier to restrict animals and more clearly define what's allowed to fly.
“I was taught you give an inch, you take a mile. Folks have recognized this policy and have abused it in a variety of ways and not just in airplanes,” said Ron McCallum and aviation attorney and corporate pilot. “If American is asking for clarification or some further enhancement of policies that are already in place, I don't think many people will see this as discrimination. Because if they have the proper licensure to bring the animal on board the aircraft, it's not going to be a problem.”
A woman made headlines earlier this year after trying to bring an emotional support peacock onto a United Airlines flight. The animal was not allowed on board even though its owner had purchased an extra ticket.
The new rules go into effect on July 1.