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Flying with Service and Comfort Animals

limo service pittsburgh, pittsburgh limoHave you ever seen an animal onboard an ordinary airplane flight and wondered about what kind of circumstances would permit such an occurrence? In the past, people would sometimes bring a pet, such as a dog or a cat, but the airline would have the animal ride in the cargo section. 

In recent years, however, airlines have recognized the rights of disabled people to bring service and comfort animals with them, noted a recent article at the Indianapolis Star. In fact, airlines permit such animals to come onboard planes, in support of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. It prohibits air carriers from denying access to disabled people, and the animals help such individuals maneuver through the world more successfully.

The number of registered Emotional Support Animals or ESAs on file with the National Service Animals Registry is 66,549, according to the Indianapolis Star. It noted that a variety of animals have been permitted to go on flights to assist their humans, including birds, cats, dogs, rabbits and even reptiles. There are even guidelines from the federal government that spell out how airlines will accommodate monkeys and pigs.

Michelle Agnew, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, told the paper that her airline actually let a miniature, seeing eye horse to accompany a person with visual disability on a trip between Detroit, Mich. and Albany, NY. Agnew said that Southwest had to remove two seats from one of the rows in order to make enough room for the support horse to lie down and get some rest.

A variety of maladies qualify people to use ESAs. Someone who has depression, dyslexia or autism, bipolar disorder, stress or emotional problems, separation anxiety or is prone to panic attacks is eligible to bring a service or comfort animal. Unfortunately, ordinary pet owners will sometimes try to break the rules by putting a fraudulent “service animal” vest on their pet. This only makes it more difficult for the cabin crew to do their jobs.

It may be somewhat disconcerting to see a dog, cat, bunny, bird or even a horse inside a commercial airplane flight. Knowing that these service and comfort animals are simply onboard to help their humans should lead to more people accepting the situation.

Posted on Apr 08 2015

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