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Pets on Planes: Airlines Beg for Regulations
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The airlines are begging regulators for mercy.  According to their petitions for actions, the current guidelines for passengers bringing pets onto their airplanes are too broad.  As a result, the pets are too large, not properly trained, aggressive, blocking the aisles, defecating, urinating, and biting, jumping on, and licking passengers.  Alison Sider, "Airlines Urge New Pet Rules," Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2018.

 

The airlines are all in for service animals being permitted on flights, but the regulations should require certification of those animals as service animals.  Currently, a letter from a therapist can get a pet on board, but that pet need not be certified.  The airlines say that these support animals should also be certified, and currently, that certification is not required.  

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) would be required to study the current rules and the current travel situations with pets.  The DOT would then propose rules that would provide for hearings and/or a public comment period, as required by the Administrative Procedures Act.  

 

The groups are already lining up as advocates and opposition for any changes.  Flight attendants will support the proposed tightening of the standards.  The National Disabilities Rights Network is opposed because of the cost burden it will impose on those with disabilities. After the public comment period and/or hearings, the DOT can promulgate the rules, promulgate the rules with some modifications based on the feedback, or propose different rules because of issues that arise during the comment period. 

 

For passengers with support or disability needs who travel with pets, there is no fee.  Traveling with your pet in the cabin for other reasons costs about $125. Currently, some airlines have imposed additional restrictions on the weight of the animals and the number of pets who can fly on any one flight.  The emotionally charged opposition will also cite the death of a number of dogs during the past year who traveled as cargo.

 

DISCUSSION STARTERS

 

Explain the issues with pets on board and why certification is important to the airlines.

What safety arguments could you make in favor of changes?

What types of rules would you propose?

Explain the types of comments you would expect from passengers.