It appears that last year a new federal rule, was passed which requires U.S. airports receiving federal financial aid to provide pet potties inside their terminals, in areas past security.
The law, titled “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel,” mandates that airports with 10,000 or more annual passengers (Phila. International Airport services somewhere around 86,000 a day) provide indoor wheelchair-accessible pet-relief areas convenient to airline gates for service animals that accompany passengers departing, connecting, or arriving on flights.
Don’t have a pet to travel with? No worries. More than 30 airports around the country now have regular programs that bring certified pet therapy dogs and their handlers into the terminals to mingle with passengers and help ease the stress of traveling.
At both Mineta San Jose International Airport (the first to have an official pet therapy program) and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, they’re called the K9 crew. At Los Angeles International Airport, the PUP (Pets Unstressing Passengers) team roams the concourses and at Denver International Airport it’s the Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) that welcomes passengers to hug, hang out and get their pictures taken with dogs wearing “Pet Me” vests.
According to the American Pet Products Association, there are around 77 million pet dogs and 85 million pet cats in the United States — and a growing number of their owners take them along when travelling by air. And when they fly as carry-on passengers in the cabin, those pets need to have tickets.
On Alaska Airlines and JetBlue, the domestic fee for a pet in the cabin is $100 each way; on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, its $125 each way. Frontier Airlines charges $75 each way, and on Southwest the fee is $95 each way.
In some cases, more than one small pet can travel in a pet carrier (and avoid an extra fee), but some airlines will tack on an extra fee if there’s a stopover of more than four hours.
The costs to take a pet on a plane can add up, which may be part of the reason an increasing number of passengers are claiming that their animals aren’t just pets, but official service or “emotional support” animals which, by law, get to fly for free.
Like Frontier Airlines, which had an issue in the past with a passenger’s emotional support marmoset, each airline website lists very specific conditions under which they will accept service animals or therapeutic/emotional support animals on their planes.
An official identification card and/or a written statement from a mental health professional is usually required, but many websites make it easy for pet owners to acquire “fake” documentation — for a fee.
This ruling makes it not matter whether it’s a duck or a mini-horse, as long as a passenger has the correct paperwork, they’re allowed to fly with an emotional support animal and nobody can say anything about it.
We can expect to see changes to this rule soon enough. As word of its existence starts to spread and more and more people start to take advantage of it, airlines will have no choice but to set rules to basically stop airplane cabins from literally going to the dogs.
For now, before you board a plane with your furry friend. make sure you are in compliance with the rules of the airline you are traveling on.