Signs The Pet On Your Flight Isn’t A Real Emotional Support Animal

Here’s an adorable little dog flying American Airlines. But there is no way it is a service animal, and a pet in cabin (that requires paying a pet in cabin fee) must remain in their carrier under the seat for the duration of the flight.

Great service and super pet friendly #americanairlines my dog is a frequent flyer @AmericanAir

— Gloria (@gloserna) September 6, 2022

Airlines have cracked down on emotional support animals, with the assent of the Department of Transportation, but that just means they’ve created paperwork and attestations. The average passenger who used to bring an ’emotional support animal’ on board didn’t overlap with the kind of passenger adept at navigating a paperwork bureaucracy in order to be able to bring an emotional support animal on board. So the Noah’s Ark approach to flying, with two of every kind of creature from turkeys to ponies to bunnies has moderated substantially.

Just because you see a dog on a plane now doesn’t make it a legitimate service animal. If it remains in the carrier underneath the seat it’s probably a ‘pet in cabin’ following those rules (and paying the requisite fee, and by the way this takes the place of your carry on). And if it’s out, well, then the passenger has successfully navigated the bureaucracy. It’s still easy to spot a fake.

What human of a legitimate service dog travels with dog pillows so the dogs can rest comfortably at the gate & on the plane? Not to mention there are 2 service dogs for a human. Srsly @AmericanAir how can you let this happen? Vests don’t make ‘em real! @garyleff @OneMileataTime

— . . . (@Transiting) September 5, 2022

The person sharing this to social media flags that these were actually Delta passengers and not American Airlines passengers, but lays out some pretty good standards by which we can tell if you’re not seeing real emotional support animals.

  • They’re being fed treats, and not just meals
  • Their owner speaks to them in baby talk
  • The animals rest on pillows
  • And there are two animals per passenger

Service animals aren’t ‘pets for someone with emotional challenges’ they are trained working animals.

We appreciate your loyalty and feedback. Service animals are trained to assist with the disability that person has in all public areas.

— americanair (@AmericanAir) September 5, 2022

Oh, and if the animal is part of a photo shoot in the aircraft window, they aren’t a real service dog either.

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