American Airlines Cracks Down On 'Emotional Support Animals' (But You Can Keep Your Miniature Horse)

The airline will now require a doctor's note if you claim your furry companion is a "service animal."

American Airlines announced Tuesday that they are cracking down on "emotional support animals" allowed on flights. No longer will passengers be allowed to claim their snakes, spiders, peacocks, goats, or hedgehogs are just there to keep them stable during their flight.

According to the BBC, the airline published the policy change to help alleviate a flood of "emotional support animal" requests, and to crack down on passengers who claim their pets are service animals in order to skip out on paying carrier charges.

The list of banned creatures includes amphibians, snakes, spiders, "non-household birds" (so no more "emotional support peacocks"), hedgehogs, insects, rodents, and any animal that has tusks, horns, or hooves, with the exception of miniature horses (so no more emotional support pigs, goats, and cows).

If your "emotional support animal" falls within the guidelines, American Airlines will now require at least 48 hours notice of your intent to board the plane with your animal. You will also have to provide a doctor's note certifying that you are actually in need of your emotional support cat, dog, or horse.

The airline says it will reserve the right to remove any support animal that looks "unclean" or is "smelly," and any animal that poses a threat to passengers, flight crew, or security personnel (including K-9 service officers). If the flight crew believes your animal isn't actually there for emotional support, they'll require you to pay the "pet fee" and abide by regulations set for traveling non-service animals.

American is actually the third airline, after United and Delta, to crack down on "emotional support animals" following an incident earlier this year where a woman attempted to convince a Delta airline crew that her peacock — a pet and part of the woman's "living art installation" — was an emotional support bird, which she believed was necessary to maintaining sanity on her cross-country flight. The peacock was denied a boarding pass and had to make a cross-country road trip instead.


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