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Alaska Airlines announces new requirements for flying with emotional support animals

FILE -- Alaska Airlines Boeing 737s at Sea-Tac Airport (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE, Wash. – Alaska Airlines announced a new policy for travelers flying with emotional support and psychiatric service animals Thursday.

Anyone who purchases a ticket on or after May 1 who plans to travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal must provide animal health and behavior documents and a signed document from a medical doctor or mental health professional at least 48 hours before the flight departs.

Alaska says this policy does not apply to their policy for traditional service animals.

"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."

Alaska says every day, approximately 150 emotional support and psychiatric service animals travel on their flights.

"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."

Starting for flights booked on or after May 1, this is the new policy:

Guests traveling with emotional support and psychiatric service animals must email or fax Alaska Airlines three completed documents, which will be available on alaskaair.com starting April 30.

  1. Animal Health Advisory Form – On this form the flyer acknowledges Alaska Airlines' recommendation that all emotional support and psychiatric service animals travel with a veterinary-issued health certificate.
  2. Mental Health Form – Currently required, this is a letter issued by a mental health professional or medical doctor approving the use of an emotional support and psychiatric service animals.
  3. Animal Behavior Form – A signed affidavit affirming the emotional support or psychiatric service animal is trained to behave in public and that the owner accepts all liability for any injuries or damage to property.

Alaska Airlines says like traditional service animals, emotional support and psychiatric service animals must be well-behaved in a public setting and under the control of their owner or handler at all times.

If guests do not submit the required forms 48 hours before their flight, they will be given the option to fly with their pet with existing pet policies.

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