Wednesday, December 2, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Paul Hartshorn, Jr.
American Airlines Flight Attendant Union Applauds
Service Animal Safety Enhancements
(Euless, TX) – Today, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) applauded the Department of Transportation (DOT) for narrowing the definition of service animals allowed in the cabin of commercial aircraft. The new rule’s central principle classifies a “service animal” as a dog trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. This has been a longtime concern for Flight Attendants, and we are delighted to see the DOT finally adopt this enhanced safety measure.
In recent years, our members have experienced firsthand the surge of untrained and sometimes even wild animals brought onboard under false certifications. Animals that have not been socialized to the stresses of air travel have been far more likely to cause inflight incidents, resulting in passengers and crewmembers being put at risk. Far too often, Flight Attendants have been intimidated, bitten, and required medical attention. We are frequently left to deal with behavioral issues, including urination, defecation, barking, and animals becoming loose in the cabin.
Furthermore, the new regulation closes a loophole that has long been exploited to the detriment of crewmembers and other travelers. The rule change will halt the rampant abuse of emotional support animal certification but ensure that qualified individuals with disabilities can travel with their legitimate service animals.
“It is inappropriate to have untrained or undertrained service animals in confined public spaces such as the aircraft cabin. The alignment of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) definition of service animals with the definition under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) creates much-needed consistency between the rules in the air and the rules we follow on the ground in other public settings. We commend the DOT for setting clear and enforceable standards,” said APFA National President Julie Hedrick. “In an era when personal space on the aircraft is at an all-time minimum, there is not adequate room for animals that are not specifically trained and certified to assist their handler. More and more animals are encroaching on the personal space and comfort of other passengers. APFA praises DOT for issuing a final rule that will create a safe and comfortable cabin environment for passengers and crewmembers alike.”
We thank the DOT for their efforts to keep American aviation safe and comfortable for traveling passengers, working crewmembers, and those with conditions that legitimately necessitate the use of trained support animals.