American Airlines has announced changes to its emotional support animal policy. In the latest episode of Tell Me Why, American’s vodcast series for team members that shares the “why” behind the decisions we make, Albert Rizzi, founder and chief executive officer of My Blind Spot, Inc., talks about working with Suzanne Boda, American’s Senior Vice President, Los Angeles, to develop these changes. He also discusses how we support our customers who have disabilities and what we’ve done to ensure we make decisions that maximize both inclusiveness and safety.
5 Things You Should Know
- We support the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs for a trained service or support animal. Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our customers and working dogs onboard our aircraft.
- American, like other airlines, has experienced an increase in customers who are transporting a service or support animal onboard our aircraft — more than 40 percent from 2016 to 2017.
- Prior to enacting these changes to our animal policy, which will become effective July 1, American met with a number of disability groups to get their input, including American Association of People with Disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Council for the Blind and My Blind Spot. At American, we want to have policies and procedures in place that protect our team members and our customers who have a real need for a trained service or support animal. We appreciate the dialogue and partnership we have with these organizations.
- Some of the changes include additional restrictions on animal types, including insects, hedgehogs and goats. American will now enforce the existing 48-hour advanced notice and pre-clearance policy for emotional support animals, but will have procedures in place for emergency travel booked within 48 hours of departure.
- Details regarding our policies are available here.