[nagdu] Emotional Support Animals on Planes

Debby Phillips semisweetdebby at gmail.com
Wed Aug 5 03:27:58 UTC 2015

Although this does not affect us directly, I suppose it could.  
Say Fido is flying with his family to Orlando and you with your 
guide is also flying to Offlando.  What happens if Fido starts an 
unfriendly interaction with your guide, who is, of course, lying 
quietly under your seat.  Interesting.    Debby and Nova 

 ---- Original Message ------
From: Craig Phillips <craphi at gmail.com
Subject: Emotional Support Animals on Planes
Date sent: Mon, 3 Aug 2015 10:45:13 -0700

USA Today -
The fur is flying in pet-people clashes in the skies

Colleen Kaczka is done with pets on planes and their "crybaby" 
And with good reason.

On a recent JetBlue flight from Newark to Orlando, an "emotional
support" dog belonging to a first-class passenger defecated 
The stench filled the entire cabin and was almost unbearable to 
and her son, who suffers from asthma.

"Airlines are enabling a bunch of selfish people who have no 
concern for
the people around them," says Kaczka, a teacher from South 
Plainfield, N.J.

Perhaps.  Confrontations between pets and passengers are at their 
now, during the dog days of summer.  More pets are flying than 
ever, yet
only half the respondents in a recent survey say animals belong 
in the
passenger cabin of a commercial jet.

*Therapy dogs soothe stressed-out travelers in San Francisco*

But for every complaint like Kaczka's, I get another from a pet 
owner or
disabled person who claims the exact opposite - that travel 
and in particular, airlines, are not accommodating enough when it 
to their furry friends.

Consider what happened to Christine Killian and her family when 
tried to fly from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles with Sam the cat 
The Killians were relocating to California, and they'd done 
to ensure Sam was airworthy.  They'd purchased a carrier, filled 
out all
the necessary paperwork and ensured he hadn't been fed before the 

Still, Sam did what animals sometimes do - he went number two 
before takeoff.  The airline ejected the cat and their entire 
family from
the flight.

"I was mortified," said Killian, a stay-at-home mom.

Eventually, the Killians flew to L.A.  without Sam.  The cat made 
journey alone, using a pet transport, at a cost of $1,179.

These stories raise a bigger question: In the absurd world of air
travel, are pets more important than people?

For Killian, the answer was obviously "no." But her travel 
problems may
be a backlash of sorts.  It happened on US Airways, a carrier 
that is
particularly sensitive to flying pets.  It infamously, and 
allowed an "emotional support" pig
on one of its planes last year after promising it would never do 
so again.

But many air travelers will experience what Kaczka did: an animal 
for whatever reason, will be treated with the deference of an
elite-level flier.

There are several reasons for that.  Federal regulations are 
when it comes to "emotional support" animals, and protective of 
rights.  For example, the government sets minimum standards when 
it comes
to an animal's carrier size, while curiously not setting minimum 
standards for human passengers.  Airlines also charge hefty pet
transportation fees - sometimes more than the human airfare - and 
reluctant to lose the revenue.

Finally, and maybe most important, our values are shifting as a 
Pets are no longer just afforded equal rights as people - in some
instances, they're treated better.

Donna Tinoco, who works for an advertising agency in Orlando, was
surprised when she found herself sitting across the aisle from a
medium-size dog in the first-class cabin on a transcontinental 
recently.  It was not in a carrier and wasn't a service animal.

She says although she loves dogs, there's a double standard.  She 
allowed to bring anything with nuts on the plane, because some
passengers might be allergic to it.  Yet Tinoco has a mild 
allergy to pet

"I was not thrilled to have a dog sitting next to me for six 
hours," she

Privately, airline executives will tell you that their hands are 
tied on
this issue - that they're being pushed in one direction by 
regulations and another by upset passengers.  For its part, 
offered Kaczka a $50 voucher for the "inconvenience."

But what airlines won't admit is that the deciding factor in all 
this is
the money.  Often, pet owners have more money to spend than 
parents with
asthmatic kids.  So guess who gets to have their way?

The solution lies with airline passengers.  They have to ask 
if taking Fido on vacation is important enough to affect the 
health of
another passenger.  And if there's a problem on board, they'll 
need to
decide whether moving to a different seat, away from an allergic
passenger, or creating a scene that could delay or divert the 
flight, is
worth their while.

Here's hoping they make the the right call.

*How to avoid a midair confrontation*

*. Call your airline.* If you have a severe pet allergy, contact 
airline.  Carriers can make special arrangements to remove
allergy-inducing materials from a flight with enough special 
notice or
to let you move to another flight.

*. Take precautions.  *Travelers like Tinoco, who have a mild 
should always fly with a supply of Benadryl.  If it's more 
serious, don't
take off without a few EpiPens in your carry-on bag.

*. Enlist the crew.  *Flight attendants are trained to handle
disagreements between passengers and other people's pets.  The 
sooner you
say something, the more options they have.  Best case scenario: 
the staff before your flight leaves.  Once the doors close, their 
are limited, particularly on a sold-out flight.

/Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate and editor at large 
National Geographic Traveler.  Contact him at chris at elliott.org
<mailto:chris at elliott.org>or visit elliott.org 

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