Alaska Airlines has announced a new policy for emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals. The airline will follow some fellow airlines in requiring signed document from a medical doctor or mental health professional, at least 48 hours in advance of departure. However, the policy is separate from Alaska Airlines’ policy for traditional service animals.
All emotional support animals traveling on Alaska Airlines will receive their very own boarding pass with tips and guidelines for their flight.
“Alaska is committed to providing accessible services to guests with disabilities and ensuring a safe environment for all flyers,” said Ray Prentice, Alaska Airlines’ director of customer advocacy. “We are making these changes now based on a number of recent incidents where the inappropriate behavior of emotional support animals has impacted and even injured our employees, other guests and service animals.”
Around 150 emotional support and psychiatric service animals travel every day on Alaska Airlines, and the airline said that number has been growing over the years. To contact the airline with the request, passengers can find three documents — an animal health advisory form, a mental health form, and an animal behavior form — on alaskaair.com starting on April 30, to be emailed or faxed to Alaska at least 48 hours in advance of travel.
“Most animals cause no problems,” said Prentice. “However, over the last few years, we have observed a steady increase in incidents from animals who haven’t been adequately trained to behave in a busy airport setting or on a plane, which has prompted us to strengthen our policy.” Alaska Airlines consulted with its disability advisory board and disability advocacy groups to ensure that the expanded policy accommodates guests with disabilities.
The new policy will go into place on May 1, 2018.