BBB Tip: Emotional Support Animals No Longer Considered Service Animals on U.S. Flights

If you are planning on a much-needed getaway in the United States by air and taking your emotional support animal, double check the changes recently issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

The changes were deemed necessary for air traveler safety, after numerous concerns were cited by several individuals regarding service animals in limited aircraft space.

Here are some specifics on the new rules for service animals when flying:

  • The definition of a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.
  • No longer considers an emotional support animal to be a service animal. They can be considered as pets. Note: psychiatric service animals are treated the same as other service animals.
  • Allows airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal’s health, behavior, and training. If taking a long flight, the owner must attest that the service animal either would not need to relieve itself or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner.

Additional descriptions of what constitutes a service animal is specified in this document released by the DOT.  Frequently asked questions were also addressed on the final ruling.

BBB recommends to continue to follow CDC travel guidelines when planning a vacation as the pandemic continues.  Read BBB’s tips on planning a vacation during a pandemic.

Get more advice by reading BBB Tip: Adapting Travel Plans for Coronavirus and BBB Tips on COVID-19.

Stay informed about travel restrictions and the spread of the virus by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel page and the U.S. Travel Association.

Go to to look up online marketplace business profiles, file a complaint, or write a customer review.  Visit BBB Scam Tracker to research and report scams.

Read more about BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust. Learn how to become a BBB Accredited Business.


Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau