The Water Cooler – Emotional Support Animals on Airplanes

October 17, 2017 12:22 pm · 44 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

Federal regulations allow a legitimate emotional support animal, whether it be a dog, a cat, a pot-bellied pig or even a miniature horse in one case, to travel on airplanes in the cabin with the owner, outside of a carrier, and for free if the owner has proper documentation.

Do you believe emotional support animals should be allowed to fly on planes, in the cabin, with the owner(s)?

Talk about it.

WhatThe? October 17, 2017 at 12:37 PM

Like most things, unfortunately people have ruined this. I can see that a small percentage of people have real problems with flying and having a dog could help. But now its easy to get so anyone can request and get one to bring their dog on-board. Now it will need to be cut back because people can’t be trusted to be honest and not game the system.

Calendar Girl October 17, 2017 at 12:41 PM

No. If a person can’t fly on an airplane without his/her emotional support animal/livestock with them, maybe they shouldn’t be on a plane. It’s a safety issue for the other passengers. Same as allowing all these animals into Safeway, Kohl’s, Sprouts, Walmart, and restaurants. Animals do not belong around the public where food is sold or served. That goes for clothing, too.

Ricardoh October 17, 2017 at 12:54 PM

PC snowflakes have taken over the world. Can’t imagine what the future holds.

Fred P. October 17, 2017 at 1:12 PM

BTW – they ought to be carrying liability insurance, also.

Kirkwood October 17, 2017 at 1:19 PM

The needs and desires of the many trumps the needs and desires of the few. People with mental issues managed their problems before the pet fad came along.

The Mamba October 17, 2017 at 1:19 PM

Yes, but only the mini horses.

Johnnywoop October 17, 2017 at 1:22 PM


Spark Baldman October 17, 2017 at 1:24 PM

Well said Fred P, Im with you

Nature Lover October 17, 2017 at 1:26 PM

Pets belong at home. I was at a check out stand recently when the woman ahead of me told the woman ahead of her that she was buying a gift for a puppy shower. The other woman said she had recently attended a 1 year birthday party for a dog. What is this world coming to?

USA October 17, 2017 at 1:33 PM

If you need your “My Little Pony” to travel, I’d feel better if you didn’t. Like, didn’t leave the house.

Kentucky Derby October 17, 2017 at 1:47 PM

I wouldn’t mind the mini horse or pot bellied pig. Maybe a couple of sheep.

Cpl Punishment October 17, 2017 at 1:52 PM

“Should” is a question that can only be answered in the context of the business model of the airline.

TOB October 17, 2017 at 1:53 PM

Only if they make the documentation difficult to weed out the ones who abuse. Charge a LARGE Fee to obtain, that will stop some. Require them to have validated papers in possession when questioned by airline.

Comfort animals are not the same as service animals. Don’t belong in stores or places you eat. Anyone who thinks they are shows their true colors and are FAKE. True service animals for disabilities night and day different than a comfort pet. State should require them to carry at least 500K liability insurance. When it bites someone, better have deep pockets, Vet record and proof it’s a verified comfort animal. Let the attorneys make examples of those who fail to do so.

People will always come before pets. #1 is probably use to spinning facts or reading them. One incident in news which most all viewed while back. Person lost because they became unruly, angry and over reacted which led to them being taken from plan. Had she not and advised of allergy (if she needs to prove, then dog owner needs to prove too), they would have moved dog/owner away from passenger or even removed to another flight. She over reacted which gets you no where. Promise you, human health comes before any pet. Don’t think your dog comes first. You would be lying to yourself.

Cpl Punishment October 17, 2017 at 1:54 PM

Calendar Girl – “Animals do not belong around the public where food is sold or served.”

Dang! There goes the Lazy Dog Restaurant …

Elwood October 17, 2017 at 2:06 PM


The neurotic owners should fly with their pets in the luggage compartment.

Newellian October 17, 2017 at 2:31 PM

No – I had an experience in Paris (where dogs are allowed in restaurants anytime), when the dog at the table next to us took a dump right there. The stench was terrible, and ruined our meal…..

Jojo Potato October 17, 2017 at 2:36 PM

There are no standard documents for support animals. Everyone just makes up their own. Check ebay for dog vests and supporting documentation. Some even come with a set of removable patches so your dog can be playing whatever role you need. Maybe these dog owners should grow up, or just get a teddy bear and stop inflicting their animal onto human society.

Antler October 17, 2017 at 2:43 PM

Who knew I could EVER agree with you, but I think you’re onto something here! 😂

It doesn’t take much imagination to realize all the whining, seat-kicking, crying, screaming children begging to “go pet the little doggy”, “hold the bunny”, etc..

Reality says... October 17, 2017 at 2:56 PM

I do a lot of traveling, rarely do I see people on the plane with animals so I can’t say it bothers me…yet.

I will say what does bother me is this vetting process they use for people who sit in the emergency rows. Flight attendants ask them all to verbally confirm they are willing and able to help and they all say yes. Really? So the 75 year old lady who couldn’t lift her bag into the luggage compartment is going to be able to open and lift an emergency door that weighs ~70 lbs?


mitch October 17, 2017 at 3:10 PM

No. If you need your animal that bad, you should stay home and cry yourself to sleep. Guide Dogs are professionals, Therapy Dogs are BS in 99% of circumstances and their owners are shameless.

inmotion October 17, 2017 at 3:27 PM

Service dogs, Yes.
Emotional support ‘whatever’, No.

King Archie the Invincible October 17, 2017 at 3:27 PM

Emotional support animals are a huge crock and a giant pain in the kiester! I hate seeing these people and their pets where they don’t belong: restaurants; food stores; public transit; etc. Legitimate helper animals are fine but folks who say they need emotional support are weak-minded and weak-willed. If you need an animal around you always, you need to be hospitalized for mental evaluation. And if your mental state is why you need the animal, you should never have been released. Toughen up, you wimps and sissies – it’s a hard world and if you need extra support, you’re a drain on the strong.

TIFOKCIS October 17, 2017 at 3:42 PM

Humans have become the weakest most pathetic creatures on the planet.

No I don’t want your dander producing, butt licking, flea infested mutt near me.

Get off the medications and your pity pot nonsense.

ME October 17, 2017 at 3:59 PM

Yes to service animals.
No to “emotional support” animals unless they have a strict process to go through and hard to forge proof carried with them at all times as someone else mentioned. I’m really tired of the purse pets and the owners that take them everywhere–it seems like the human just wants the attention the animal gets and its nauseating. –And I love animals!

BITE_ME October 17, 2017 at 4:03 PM

Humans are animals.
You need to be more specific.
Example: Would my psychiatrist be classified as an “emotional support animal”?

Why is it you can buy insurance for a airplane ride. But your not allowed to bring a parachute?

Cautiously Inforned October 17, 2017 at 4:09 PM

Why don’t they just give them coloring books and crayons like they do for the helpless perennially infantile college students of today?

T-Rex October 17, 2017 at 4:47 PM

People have become so weak, it’s embarrassing. I would be pissed if I was forced to sit next to a mini horse. Lol. If the pets serve a legitimate purpose then I’m all for it. I.e. blind or seizure dogs, etc.

Elisa October 17, 2017 at 4:51 PM

I don’t mind emotional support animals…if they are for an actual condition such as severe anxiety or PTSD and are (key word here) TRAINED. Unfortunately, these animals get a bad rap because so many people are fakers who just want to bring their pets everywhere. The animals are often poorly behaved, under-socialized, and not potty-trained.

Dorothy October 17, 2017 at 5:06 PM

I don’t fly so I really shouldn’t have an opinion on this – but I do. I have animal dander allergies. Dander is flakes of skin and all animals have skin, even the so called hairless ones such as pigs. So if animals are now allowed on planes, what about the people with allergies? Don’t they have rights? After all, that is also a medical issue.

Strad October 17, 2017 at 5:27 PM

No. because they might trigger somebody elses emotional issues or allergies.

Silva October 17, 2017 at 6:21 PM

I think it was fine like it always was for eons. One animal was allowed by reservation per flight, in a carrier that could fit under the seat in front of you, for a fee. Any other animal would be transported in the luggage compartment, (which I would strongly recommend NOT doing). Exceptions made for seeing eye dogs. Vaccination record and a letter from a vet stating the animal is in good health required.

Retired Atty October 17, 2017 at 7:18 PM

How ’bout the airlines offer free valium to anyone with a prescription that wants one instead of letting their precious snowflake kitty cat take a huge dump right next to me. That was NOT a good experience.

meemo October 17, 2017 at 9:10 PM

Doc u ment ation. That’s the key word for me. I don’t even want your animal in the market if you don’t have the correct documentation attesting to it’s necessity. Otherwise, keep your pets in your home.

Mika October 17, 2017 at 9:28 PM

Aren’t businesses prohibited from asking for proof a dog is a service animal? You can get comfort dog certificates for $75 on line. It’s a joke! I think they should be required to carry liability insurance if they are just a comfort dog. And how many dogs do they allow on a plane without a carrier? Who cleans up their mess, the poor stewardess? Ridiculous!

Dawg October 17, 2017 at 10:55 PM

No, it’s an abused privilege and some people are allergic to dogs. If a person needs emotional support that’s why we have shrinks.

Fred P. October 18, 2017 at 6:57 AM

Nope to “emotional support” animals. There’s no consistent documentation or training, trained/documented service animals are another story (seeing-eye dogs).

Why should the wants of person A (with a “need” for an emotional support animal) override my wants of allergan-free air? Carry this to the extreme, and you have multiple animals on board.

Anon October 18, 2017 at 7:06 AM

People with allergies shouldn’t fly since there are thousands of people on the planes who could have anything you are allergic to and don’t forget about the peanuts.

DD October 18, 2017 at 7:33 AM

Would prefer to see animals, ANY animals, than screaming children.

dinkydau October 18, 2017 at 8:21 AM

I worked in the airline industry and have talked to flight attendants about this. My concern has always been, what if the animal takes a crap in the middle of the aisle? Then you get the stench which for me, I cannot stand. Well this happened to someone I know who was a member of the flight crew. some people gagged and all they could do is put newspaper over it and people walked on top of it. Part of the plane had the odor of dog poop. Glad I wasnt on that flight.
Seeing Eye dogs? Sure I have seen this. They are trained Assistant dogs? Yes to some extent, but thats it.

smee October 18, 2017 at 10:11 AM

I’m a flight attendant and it has become rare to have a flight without an emotional support animal. The airline’s hands are tied by the American Disabilities Act, and it’s considered discriminatory to demand insurance or question the validity of the $10 internet doctor’s documentation. And the threats to sue are not uncommon. Dog biting and defecation are more and more common. especially to flight attendants reaching over to deliver a drink. If a passenger has an allergy or fear of certain animals, they will be moved (usually to a middle seat) or removed from the flight, not the animal and owner. Most service and true support animals are a delight and others hardly know they’re there. But the huge emotional support turkey that wouldn’t stay on the owners lap and was flying around the cabin?! Many in the industry feel the ES animals should be in a carrier at the feet of the owner, or at the very least muzzled for safety. Tip to flyers: when you make your reservation, state you have an allergy or fear of certain animals, buy a ticket that enables you to choose your seat in advance, and they won’t be seated next to you. Also, if you get that ES horse next to you taking up your foot or seat space, complain during boarding. The animal is not allowed to take up neighboring seat space, but once in the air, it’s too late.

FAA October 18, 2017 at 11:07 AM

This is something good that has been ruined by people abusing it, very similar to the abuse of the medical marijuana laws.
The CA state motto is spreading to the rest of the country, “it’s all about me”. So sad!!!

Cpl Punishment October 18, 2017 at 2:46 PM


When it comes to the 2nd Amendment, CA motto is definitely NOT “it’s all about me” but I am starting to get an idea ….

Emotional support firearms anyone?

Elisa October 18, 2017 at 4:02 PM

Greedy dishonest people ruin everything that starts off as good-hearted and compassionate. T_T

Lizzie October 18, 2017 at 6:27 PM

I flew from Oakland to Burbank recently. 2 dogs were in carriers, not a peep out of them, the screaming baby did not shut up the entire flight!

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