In addition to the shipping of personal effects around the globe for our clients, we are also occasionally asked to assist with the transportation of their employees’ pets. As you can imagine, the rules, policies, and regulations for worldwide shipping of pets can be very complicated, and they can change abruptly with little or no notice. That is why we partner with several companies that are experts in this very specialized field. We rely on their expertise to keep us abreast of the most current regulations when it comes to pet travel and transportation. They let us know when airlines make changes to pet travel policies.
Traveling with Service Animals
Traveling with service animals adds another level of complexity when relocating. You might have even noticed an increasing number of pets riding in the cabin during your most recent flights. While the airlines have maintained policies around this, some have announced important changes to those policies in the past few weeks, as it relates to passengers traveling with emotional support animals.
Recent Airline Policy Changes
Most recently, both Delta Airlines and United Airlines have independently released updates to their pet travel policies. This was due to reported abuses by many passengers of the law that was implemented to aid disabled passengers traveling with service animals.
What the New Policies Mean
Delta Airlines will be implementing new regulations effective March 1, 2018 for passengers bringing service or emotional support animals on its planes. As of that date, all passengers attempting to board with a service animal will have to show “proof,” 48 hours before flying, that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated. Passengers with emotional support animals will be required to sign a form stating that the animal is well behaved and won’t act aggressively. Passengers will also have to present a letter prepared and signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional that certifies that the passenger needs an emotional support pet.
Likewise, United Airlines has also issued a new policy on service animals. The policy states that effective March 1, that United will require additional documentation for customers traveling with an emotional support animal. Currently, customers must provide 48 hours’ notice to the airline’s Accessibility Desk and a letter from a licensed medical or mental health professional. For travel on or after March 1, customers will also need to provide a veterinary health form documenting the health and vaccination records for the animal traveling with them. They will also have to confirm that the animal has had appropriate behavioral training.
Health and Safety Concerns
Apparently, Delta had seen an increase in the number of service animals on its flights go up by nearly 150 percent since 2015. That accounts for more than 250,000 service and support animals flying (free of charge) a year.
Unconventional Travel Companions
There has also been a steep increase in customers trying to fly with comfort animals that has included some fairly unconventional choices. For instance, Delta has seen passengers who have attempted to fly with their comfort turkeys, sugar gliders, snakes, and several other unusual breeds of “pets.” The increase in the number of service animals onboard has also added to the number of animal related incidents on Delta flights, which has increased by 84 percent since 2016.
Meanwhile, United’s updated policy comes on the tail feathers of a recent incident in which a passenger attempted to bring a peacock onboard a flight from Newark to Los Angeles. United refused to allow the peacock on the flight, based on the airline’s previous policy for health and safety reasons.
Don’t Go It Alone, Contact Us
We always recommend that you check with your airline to verify their pet policies before you get ready to travel. Better yet, just contact us! We are always here to assist you with any of your relocation needs and questions, whether it’s for you, your employee, or a fury (or feathery) family member.