It is not uncommon to find strange animals and pets, taking a trip with their owners on a flight. Some passengers are allowed to carry their pets into an aircraft for the purpose of getting emotional support from their pets throughout the journey.
Emotional support animals are different from service animals (i.e. assistance dogs or guide dogs, which help disabled people).
The practice of allowing emotional support animals into an aircraft is common in the United States. This is because the State recognizes “emotional support” animals. So, you can see animals ranging from miniature horses to kangaroos (although too big for a flight), parrots, pet dogs and cats, sitting with their owners inside a US flight.
Persons who intend to fly with their emotional support animals will usually inform the Airline of this.
There has been an increase in the number of requests for emotional support pets for flights. According to America’s United Airlines, a whooping 75% increase in the number of requests has been recorded within the past year.
The fact that this emotional support animals are allowed in US flights does not mean that every request to allow an emotional support animal will be granted.
For example, an airline refused to allow a ‘support peacock’, called Dexter, into the flight because the peacock’s size and weight did not meet the guidelines.
Also, airlines reserve the right to streamline the animals which they consider as “emotional support animals”.
For example, United Airlines banned goats, frogs, hedgehogs, and some other animals from entering into the aircraft. Recently, the airline streamlined animals falling into the “emotional support animals” to include dogs, cats, and trained miniature horses that can fit into the cabins.
To intensify the matter, the airline now requires that passengers who intend to bring their emotional support animals into the flight must show a ‘doctor’s note’.
Some other countries, like the UK, do not recognize “emotional support” animals. As such UK airlines will not allow strange animals into the cabin. But it is not uncommon to see service dogs (i.e. guide dogs and dogs which help disabled people) allowed into British flights. There are however, ongoing campaigns for the recognition of ‘emotional support animals in the UK.