Declare your pet potbelly pig, your Emotional Support Animal (ESA), fly it free on airline travel – sounds too good to be true? Apparently so. Airlines reported more than 40% increase of service or support animals travelling onboard. Even politicians noticed the abuse, as Chicago City Council introduced ordinance to ban all animals without proper documentation from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport.

Previously, Delta Airlines tightened its requirements on service animals and ESA. United Airlines followed with some restrictions and documentation requirements. Now, American Airlines (AA) also updated its policy on Service and ESA. AA does not permit the following list as service animals or ESA – fairly similar to Delta’s policy.

  • Amphibians
  • Ferrets
  • Goats
  • Hedgehogs
  • Insects
  • Reptiles
  • Rodents
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Sugar gliders
  • Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, & birds of prey)
  • Animals with tusks, horns or hooves (excluding miniature horses properly trained as service animals)
  • Any animal that is unclean / has an odor

There are also animal behavior requirement

  • Growling
  • Biting or attempting to bite
  • Jumping on or lunging at people

If this behavior is observed at any point during the journey and isn’t corrected or controlled, the animal will be considered a pet and all pet requirements and applicable fees will apply.

Animals must be able to fit at the customer’s feet, under their seat or in their lap (animals to be seated on lap must be smaller than a 2-year old child)

So, under AA’s new policy, these are not allowed. Although, I suppose, one could argue a well behaved kangaroo is not on the banned list.

One note worth applauding. AA’s new policy also distinguishes between service animals and emotional support animal. Service animals have been specifically trained to perform life functions for individuals with disabilities; whereas, for ESA, all bets are off, until now.


{scotland} headed north

February 26, 2018

After a short time in Edinburgh, I was headed north into the Scottish Highlands. Since there’s no good way to see the Highlands using public transit and there was no way that I was going to drive all around Scotland by myself, I decided to join a tour group through Haggis Adventures. It turned out to be pretty awesome and I’m glad I did it! The best part was being able to sit back, relax, and really enjoy the view without having the worry about the mechanics of getting to all these places. Here’s a few sights we saw along the way headed north!

Read more about our United Kingdom adventure here:
Scotland – edinburgh, the old cityall things national museum • holyrood views 15th century st. giles cathedral closes abound edinburgh’s castle

A Scottish photo adventure:

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) – whose emotional well-being is that animal supporting? The owner? If you are kicked off the plane because of your misbehaving 70-lb pot-belly pig, that’s not much emotional support from that pig. The other passengers? Sorry, no one seems to care about your well-being! It is most ironic to hear comment by Tom Panek, CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, whose 2½ hours Delta flight was made miserable by (another person’s) barking, lunging and disrupting support dog. “No one wanted to confront this individual and say that this dog is not appropriate as an emotional support dog.”

Perhaps, the “other passengers” are getting some help. Delta Airlines is tightening its requirements on service animals and ESA. Most likely, Delta was forced into it, by incidents such as a Delta passenger was mauled by a support dog, biting the man’s face multiple times.

Specifically for ESA, in addition to the standard ESA documents, Delta is requiring 3 new forms to be submitted 48 hours prior to travel.

1. Veterinary Health Form – to be completed by veterinarian, to include:

  • Date of Rabies Vaccine
  • Date of Distemper Vaccine
  • Veterinarian’s license number, date license was issued, state license was issued, and signature

2. Medical/Mental Health Professional Form – to be completed by a mental health professional

  • Therapist’s license number, date license was issued, state license was issued, and signature

3. Confirmation of Animal Training – confirmation that your animal has been trained

Delta Airlines will not accept the following for ESA.

  • Dirty/unkempt animals or those that smell
  • Animals with hooves or tusks
  • Hedgehogs
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Rodents
  • Ferrets
  • Insects
  • Sugar Gliders
  • Reptiles
  • Non-household birds ie farm fowl, birds of prey etc.

Are duck and peacock farm fowls? But, the pot-belly pig is definitely out.

I applaud Delta Airlines for trying to distinguish between service animals and ESA (although they didn’t want to do it very overtly). Service animals are specifically trained and usually very well behaved. Whereas, for ESA, all bets are off.

Other airlines, leaning toward agreeing with Delta’s efforts, are evaluating their ESA policy.

{nyc} 2-hours stop-in

January 30, 2018

Leaving the east coast and headed back to the west coast, we ended up leaving from JFK in New York City. My friend and I took the train from New Haven (Conn.) to Manhattan before heading to the airport. Odd in terms of timing, we had just a couple of hours to kill before having to take the subway to the airport so we decided to do a little bit of exploring. Since neither of us had seen the finished 9-11 Memorial and Freedom Towers area, we decided to head in that direction. I had seen the memorial before, but none of the towers and he hadn’t been to New York City at all since all of that construction started. We tried to do as much walking as possible (with our bags) so that we could pack in as much city life in as possible, which turned out to be a great decision because who doesn’t love walking all around NYC? If only we had more time for all this! Next time!

A 2-hour photo adventure: