23 03, 2021

How the Emotional Support Animal Ban May Affect You

By |2021-03-23T10:28:20-06:00March 23rd, 2021|Blog|0 Comments

As vaccinations become more readily available to the American public, the possibility of travel feels attainable. After over a year of varying levels of lockdown, it is also incredibly enticing. However, passengers will not be returning to the same flying environment they left before the pandemic. Many major airlines placed a ban on emotional support animals on planes in 2020 after the Department of Transportation announced emotional support animals would not be considered service animals.

 

The Basics of Emotional Support Animals

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as a “dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.”

Emotional support animals can provide service and comfort to their owners. This ban has put many owners in a state of desperation. 80% of owners would pay in order to ensure their pets were seated with them instead of in the cargo hold, with just about 20% of owners willing to spend at least $300. Prior to the ban, emotional support animals were ticketed and boarded with their owners. Service dogs are still able to ride with their passengers for free, although some airlines will ask for the service dog’s certification forms.

Passengers and organizations that oppose the presence of emotional support animals point to an 85% increase in incidents involving emotional support animals since 2016. Almost 2 of every 5 flying passengers have been on a flight where an incident involving an emotional support animal occurred. Two notable incidents are a dog biting an American Airlines attendant in 2019 and an emotional support pig defecating in a plane’s cabin in 2014.

 

The State of Flying

This ban affects more than just passengers who have support animals themselves. In fact, 48% of airline customers report they feel happy when seeing an animal on the plane. 10% of people reported reduced anxiety when there is a support animal on the same flight.  On the other hand, 11% of people are annoyed with the presence of support animals, 10% feel increased anxiety, and 9% of passengers have an allergy to animals. Other passengers had a more diplomatic view: 34% of airline customers understand support the ban on emotional support animals, while still wishing customers who need the support could have an alternate option.

Airlines for Americans reports that over one million passengers brought emotional support animals on plane rides in 2019, and 90% of people who tried to certify pets as emotional support animals were successful. This spike in passengers with emotional support animals is a direct result of loosening restrictions, which ultimately might have led to the 2021 ban.

Though that spike likely resulted in exploitation of the emotional support animal system, the ban will place untold strain on passengers who relied on that source of comfort. Unfortunately, the passengers with emotional support animals will not be the only ones suffering. Over half of American passengers prefer flying next to animals than babies or toddlers. The post-pandemic travel boom will offer all passengers a less animal-friendly cabin.

23 02, 2021

When Will Traveling Return to “Normal”?

By |2021-02-23T08:55:41-07:00February 23rd, 2021|Blog|0 Comments

We have been living through the pandemic for roughly a year now. We think it is safe to say that many people are thinking of the days to come, when we can go out in public comfortably. Maybe we’ll even be able to take a vacation. Normally, plans would start taking shape for the next vacation or road trip with your pup a few months out. The pandemic has put those plans on hold, but with the vaccine rollout underway, we might start to see some things return to normal. To give you a bit of a heads up, we wanted to share some information about how the vaccine will affect the traveling and tourism industry in the months and years to come.

 

The Vaccine and Travel Restrictions

The immediate future of traveling by air will likely include a proof of vaccination. As countries continue to vaccinate their citizens, having the vaccine is a safer precaution than simply testing negative for the coronavirus before flying. The pandemic has not greatly impacted traveling with pets. Airlines made a rule change in 2020 that prevents emotional support animals from boarding for free. However, pets, like dogs and cats, can still travel in the cabin for a fee.

Travel restrictions will likely stay in place for the time being until the daily cases decline. You can view a list of state travel limits here. To that end, predicting which airlines will require proof of vaccination is hard. Much of post-COVID-19 travel is, ironically, still up in the air. Travelers should see more clarity within a few months.

 

What Is the Current State of Tourism?

The pandemic halted tourism and hurt many businesses dependent on the industry. The vaccine may represent the hope of returning to normal life, but it may be awhile until tourism is viable again.

Businesses reliant on tourism will have to find ways to adapt their practices to provide safe ways for people to travel and engage with tourism activities.

Even with the vaccine, travelers will likely be cautious to return to pre-COVID-19 tourist behaviors. People might fear large crowds and cramped spaces, which the tourist industry will have to work around. There are several factors to think about in terms of tourism recovery. It will likely take a few years for tourism to regain strength, but eventually, we expect it to come back in full force.

 

Pandemic Vacation Options 

Until more people are vaccinated, air travel will remain very risky. Vacation options, like camping or road trips, remain a good way to have a change of scenery while maintaining social distancing. Plus, driving with your pet is much easier than flying with them – and cheaper, too. Hotels have increased their cleanliness procedures, making them safe places to stay for short-term trips. If you are itching to get away for a small trip, stick to options that allow for responsible practices.

COVID-19 precautions are still very necessary despite the vaccine getting to more people. The vaccine is a huge step to building herd immunity, but that process will take time. You should still avoid non-essential travel until health officials and airlines indicate a reduced risk for travelers. Travel will come back eventually, so patience is key.

 

29 01, 2021

Evacuating with Pets During a Natural Disaster – Everything You Need to Know

By |2021-02-01T07:53:45-07:00January 29th, 2021|Blog|0 Comments

Planning for natural disasters is something none of us want to think of. But the more prepared you are, the better. This is especially true when you need to factor pets to your evacuation plan. Natural disasters come in many forms. Some are more relevant based on the region you live in. Regardless of the disaster, we want to help you feel equipped to get you and your pet to safety if you find yourself in an emergency.

 

Precautions for Pet Safety

There are some precautions you can take with your pet that can help in an emergency. The key here is properly identifying your pet. This includes the minimum of a collar with the pet’s name and your contact information. Opting to microchip your pet increases the chance of locating your pet if it gets lost. Another precaution is always having up-to-date records for your pet at the ready. These simple steps will go a long way if you must evacuate.

 

Assemble a Disaster Kit 

In the event of a disaster, you may need to quickly leave your home and travel to a safe destination. You will want to make sure to have a disaster kit for your pet in a convenient location. Having a kit packed for your pet is the easiest way to ensure your pet has what it needs without you scrambling to pack a bag during the emergency.

Here are some of the items to consider including. The first category is documents. The paperwork should cover your pet’s vaccinations, microchip information, and medication. This is relevant in the event you need to activate the microchip or if shelters or vets require documentation for sheltering your pet. You will also want to pack a two-week supply of food and water for your pet along with any necessary medications.

Other than these items, you should pack a leash and collar, a pet carrier, and something warm for your pet to sleep on. For a full checklist, you can reference this one from the CDC.

 

Make a Plan

On top of a disaster kit, you will want to have an evacuation plan for you and your pet. This involves identifying a place to seek shelter for the duration of the emergency. The Humane Society covers this step in more depth, including links to find pet-friendly lodging. It is a good idea to make a list of places to go for different scenarios. You likely cannot predict how long you will have to be away from your home, so you should have options.

 

After an Emergency

Emergencies can confuse your dog and make them feel uncertain when you return to your home. Depending on the severity of the emergency, your pet may even have injuries that you need to tend to. Understand that you will need to keep a close watch on your dog until they acclimate. Be sure that you keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier until you can assess the safety of your home after a disaster.

 

19 12, 2020

The Emotional Support Animals Policy is Changing – Again

By |2020-12-14T07:05:04-07:00December 19th, 2020|Airlines, Blog|0 Comments

As of a December 2020 rule change, airlines will impose different rules on emotional support animals. These airlines will no longer automatically approve animals that might have normally been allowed to fly. As a passenger, you may not have even been aware of the policy, let alone the adjustment. We’ll get you up to speed on both and let you know what the policy change means for travel with emotional support animals.

 

Emotional Support Animals on Planes 

You’ve likely heard about emotional support animals before. In fact, you’ve probably seen one on a flight. While most associate them with dogs or the occasional cat, emotional support animals can be any animal. Here is where problems arise for airlines. Before the December 2020 policy change, airlines allowed most emotional support animals on flights for free to accompany their humans. This meant that airlines allowed pigs, birds, or any other animal an person owners claimed as emotional support to board. If you think that sounds made up, take a look at this example of a woman who tried to board with her peacock. This clearly was a recurring problem, and airlines spent time and money asking the Department of Transportation to change national policy.

Emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Service animals are trained to assist owners with challenges caused by a disability. Service animals are allowed to travel with their human at no cost, without question. However, the inclusion of emotional support animals, in all their forms, as service animals allowed untrained animals on planes. Considering the two types of animals as one left airlines without concrete policy grounds for denying certain animals.

 

The New Emotional Support Animal Policy         

Here are some key highlights of the differences. The core of the policy update is that the Department of Transportation considers emotional support animals as pets, no longer as service animals. A secondary change is that service animals can only be dogs. The ADA had already defined service animals as trained dogs, so the airlines are now consistent with their definition.

This new rule will impact groups differently. For airlines, this will largely impact which animals can fly and how they charge animals flying. They can more readily prevent untrained animals from flying without being held to the same rules as normal pets. Those flying with service dogs will not be impacted as they still maintain the right to fly with their animal. The passengers who once were able to travel with their emotional support animals will face the most change, as it is no longer guaranteed that their animal can fly with them.

For most airlines, the policy is a good thing. They hope that this change will improve the flying experience for those who dislike animals on planes. This policy restores the essential function of trained service animals for their owner. This can translate to greater legitimacy for the work of service animals. People who were once able to fly with their emotional support animal may be frustrated with the change, but that is to be expected. As a result, this update is bound to have mixed opinions.

30 11, 2020

Pet Travel is Especially Risky This Holiday Season. Here’s What You Need to Know.

By |2020-11-30T10:50:27-07:00November 30th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

The holiday season is typically one of the busiest travel periods in the United States. Each year, millions – some with pets – board airplanes to travel across the country, visiting family and friends along the way. It does not appear that trend will change much this year; nearly half of all Americans traveled for Thanksgiving last week, and even more are likely to visit home for Christmas and New Year’s. But what does this mean for pet travel amid the pandemic?

If you’re bringing Fido or Fluffy home for the holidays, you might have a slightly harder time getting them there and back safely. Here are a few hiccups you might encounter during this strange holiday season.

 

Triple-Check Your Travel Plans

The day before Thanksgiving was the highest-volume travel day since March, before the pandemic began. But, despite this increased demand for air travel, some airlines are still blocking out the middle seat on planes to allow folks to socially distance while in the air. If you already have your ticket booked, you’re likely safe, but you should check in on the status for Fido or Fluffy. If you plan to bring your pet inside the cabin, check to see whether your airline has imposed additional restrictions on pets. We recommend calling the customer service line as soon as possible, as well as one week before travel.

 

Bring Enough Food for Fido

2020 has been a year of surprises, and the holidays will not be an exception. If you contract the novel coronavirus while visiting friends and family, you will need to quarantine for 14 days. In some cases, this may require extending your stay. If this is the case, and if you’ve brought your pet along, you’ll want to be prepared. Even if you’re only visiting for a few days, bring enough pet supplies to last you the full two weeks. You don’t want to be stuck away from home without access to your pup’s specialty food or prescription medications.

 

Reconsider Your Holiday Travel

Health and government officials are continuing to urge Americans to stay home for nonessential travel. Despite what your parents might say, visiting their house for Thanksgiving or Christmas isn’t always essential. Though flying on airplanes does not seem to produce super-spreader events, there are still many opportunities for you to get sick – as well as for you to transmit the virus. Adding a cat or dog into your travel equation could provide unnecessary stress and additional hurdles. If you’re traveling for the holidays, and especially if you’re bringing Fido, think seriously about staying home. Travel will still be there when the pandemic is over.

27 10, 2020

COVID-19 is Raising Pet Travel Costs

By |2020-10-27T13:05:07-06:00October 27th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

We know many of our readers aren’t traveling these days. The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us to stay home, and those who do travel are choosing cars over airplanes. But there are still pet parents in the skies, and with the holidays drawing near, you may be thinking more seriously about bringing Fido along.

 

The hard truth is that the pandemic has temporarily changed pet travel. Over the past few years, fewer airlines are accepting animals as cargo and checked baggage. Those who continue to allow cargo transportation have imposed stricter size and weight limits on traveling animals. According to a story published by USA Today, COVID-19 has only exacerbated these trends. Many airlines have updated their pet policies to include the phrase, “subject to availability.” In lay terms, this means they’re waiting to better understand the caseload and economic situation before guaranteeing pet travel.

 

The Latest on Airlines

Airlines are in a tricky spot right now. With fewer folks in the air, there are fewer opportunities to make money. In many cases, this has resulted in massive layoffs, reduced flights, and fewer in-flight services. Some airlines have eliminated middle-seat placement for customers, but this doesn’t necessarily mean Fido or Fluffy can take that spot. Plus, with fewer airline staff members, there are fewer employees to help you navigate the pet travel process.

What’s more, the coronavirus pandemic has also decreased the number of animals able to fly. Most airlines place a limit on the number of animals allowed on a plane. Typically, this includes 3-5 animals in the cabin and slightly more in the cargo hold. With fewer planes in the air these days, there are fewer opportunities to get an animal onboard.

Still, it is possible to get an animal on an airplane. Hundreds of people are still able to do it every day. If you’ve decided to bring Fido along, you’ll need to do a bit more research than usual.

 

What to Expect if You Plan to Fly

Most airlines have not released changes to pet policies. If you plan to fly with an animal during the pandemic, we recommend calling your individual airline’s customer service. This will give you a direct line into the company to see if there is any updated information. Those planning to fly with pups in the cabin should note that limited passenger capacity may also translate to limited animal seats.

We also recommend double checking how much you’ll need to pay to get Fido on the plane. With limited revenue, some airlines may increase the cost of a pet boarding pass.

If you need to fly, we also recommend checking your airline’s policy on masking and social distancing. It appears that most major US airlines have already released plans and guidelines for holiday travel. This master list updates with new information whenever an airline announces a change. The safer your travels, the more likely you are to return home with a happy dog and a clean bill of health. Whether you choose to fly for the holidays or decide to wait it out, it’s best to have as much information as possible.

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