December 3, 2020

"Airlines no longer will be required to accommodate travelers who want to fly with emotional support animals such as pigs, rabbits and turkeys..."

"... under a final rule announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.... Emotional support animals aren't considered service animals under the new rule.... Over the years, airlines have had to accommodate a growing variety of animals as the definition of what is considered a service animal expanded to include animals that travelers said they needed for emotional and psychological support when flying.... Service animals are those that have been trained to perform a certain function, and under the Americans With Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodations must be made for a person using one. However, no training is required for emotional support animals, which has led some to question their legitimacy. Before the rule change, federal law didn't address the issue of emotional support animals, so airlines had little recourse but to accommodate them.... 'This final rule will ensure that untrained pets will never roam free in the aircraft cabin again.'"


I'm happy to see this rule. Click on my "service animals" tag to see what I've written on the topic over the years. I'll just highlight this 2018 post that was based on a David Leonhardt column in the NYT, "It’s Time to End the Scam of Flying Pets" (NYT). Here's the quote from Leonhardt that began the post:
The whole bizarre situation [of emotional support animals on airplanes] is a reminder of why trust matters so much to a well-functioning society. The best solution, of course, would be based not on some Transportation Department regulation but on simple trust. People who really needed service animals could then bring on them planes without having to carry documents. Maybe a trust-based system will return at some point. But it won’t return automatically. When trust breaks down and small bits of dishonesty become normal, people need to make a conscious effort to restore basic decency.
Leonhardt did not want a rule! He imagined people working through the problem on our own! I'm inclined to resist overregulation, but I thought his "best solution" was a pipe dream. I wrote:
The best solution...

Voltaire said: The best is the enemy of the good. ("Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.")

I don't see how we're supposed to get to trust, when in a huge system, like airline transportation, you're always going to get some cheaters and it doesn't take many — 1%? — to create a problem like the one symbolized by Dexter the emotional-support peacock (picture at the NYT link).

And I'm not convinced trust is the answer. People need to be observant and skeptical.

I'll quote John Stuart Mill now: "Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."

Sometimes you need rules. 

49 comments:

Michael P said...

This part is interesting: "Transportation Department officials previously said they limited the definition of service animal to dogs because the vast majority of service animals are canines."

The ADA was revised some time ago (before the emotional support animal kerfuffle) to define service animal to only include dogs; before that, it could also include miniature horses. I wonder why the Transportation Department would use a different definition for service animals than the ADA does.

Wilbur said...

I'm sure Bob Dole is pissed that people can longer bring their pigs and peacocks onto planes.

The ADA: maybe the most unreasonable and mischief-producing legislation ever promulgated by the U.S. Congress. Good intentions mean nothing.

Humperdink said...

Trust in this social/political environment is a non-starter. Trust went to skepticism, skepticism went to absolute distrust. We have arrived!

mockturtle said...

I'm crushed that I shall no longer be permitted to bring my emotional support python with me when flying. May as well just stay home.

mezzrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steve uhr said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wilbur said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Darrell said...

How am I going to tell my service giraffe?

Balfegor said...

I don't see how a society that has broken down to the point that it has become principally reliant on law, regulation, and the machinery of enforcement to restrain cheating is going to be sustainable long term. It's too brittle, too fragile. That's the difference between civilised and uncivilised. It's like banning cheating in schools. Sure you can ban cheating, but when your culture doesn't feel any shame in cheating (and sometimes even valorises teachers who facilitate cheating), what are you going to do? Law and regulation aren't going to win against culture. Except in some very narrow circumstances like, I suppose, people boarding commercial airliners, where the net of regulation is already so comprehensive.

Anyhow, I don't think there's a quick way to restore trust. Rather, it's a generations-long labour --

by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.

stevew said...

This is a good day and great rule. I (used to) fly a lot for work, generally weekly, and this is a scam that needs to be addressed.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Wilbur.

David Begley said...

We do need rules. We need to enforce bright line election laws. It didn’t happen in Wisconsin and other states. We’re fucked if Biden assumes office. Our high trust society is gone. Welcome to the Jungle. Thanks to the Dems for fucking America up.

gspencer said...

"When trust breaks down and small bits of dishonesty become normal, people need to make a conscious effort to restore basic decency."

Tell it to the Democrats!

Bob Boyd said...

Sometimes you need rules.

And above all you need rules for the rule makers.

Scott Patton said...

Let it up to the individual airline companies. They own the jets, they can make the rules. The customers can decide if the rules are good or bad.

Temujin said...

I'm OK with the rules. It's their airline. It's their business. My old business had its rules on behavior and we threw out more than a couple of unruly people from our place. In my current business I choose who I will work with and who I won't based on how we interact. I will literally walk away from a customer who is too high maintenance. I will recommend that they try one of my competitors.

For the benefit of the airlines, they should, independently, make their rules as they see will best work for the majority of their customers. Consider the rules a standard. Currently- or before Wuhan anyway- if one person onboard a 285 passenger jet had a peanut allergy, they would not pass out peanuts on the plane and would make an announcement to all passengers to refrain from pulling out a PBJ sandwich (or any peanut item). What happens if someone onboard says that they are allergic to pangolins and that the person bringing on their support pangolin will need to leave the plane?

Rules are needed. Not dictatorship, but a standard that all can easily follow, and that makes the overall experience better for everyone. Except the pangolin.

Todd said...

"Airlines no longer will be required to accommodate travelers who want to fly with emotional support animals such as pigs, rabbits and turkeys..."
"... under a final rule announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation....


WOW some sanity! Don't worry about it thought, the Biden admin will fix this "sanity"...

Fernandinande said...

when your culture doesn't feel any shame in cheating

I thought your link would be to "Riot after Chinese teachers try to stop pupils cheating"

Hey Skipper said...

We need more airline Captains saying “Get that damn thing off my airplane.”

Kay said...

One of my favorite genre of online videos I like to watch is when people bring their support animal to a business establishment, and the management wants to kick them out, so they film the interaction as a way to “flex their rights.”

Owen said...

Disappointed. I was looking forward to bringing my support mongoose on board the airplane. To interact with other passengers’ support cobras.

Birkel said...

You cannot enunciate the moral reasons for setting the standard where you prefer it, Althouse.
You merely have your tastes and preferences that you wish to impose on others who are doing you no harm.

I believe that is the structure of the argument you prefer.

tim maguire said...

I've never seen an animal in the cabin, but I only fly a few times a year, so I can't comment on whether this really is a problem. But so long as it costs $200 to check your pet and there is no guarantee of decent treatment (or even that they'll arrive alive), you will get people trying to bring their pets into the cabin.

Amadeus 48 said...

Be best.

Mark said...

Living in a condo, we joined the neighborhood community garden to grow some tomatoes and salad greens.

It wasn't crazy with their rules, I thought they didn't need to spell that much out.

And then a neighboring plot decided to put an old upholstered couch in their plot. By the time August rolled around, that thing stunk from the rain and dead vegetation collected on it.

The person who rented that space disappeared by fall and the volunteer board got to find a trailer and haul that thing to the dump a half hour away.

The next year when there was a 'no couches or upholstered furniture' rule the rest of that section no longer seemed strange.

Tragedy of the commons and all that

Amadeus 48 said...

Think about how trust is necessary to the operation of financial markets or, indeed, remote markets anywhere. We all put a a heck of a lot of trust in Amazon, the NYSE (through our retirement plans), and our bank.

gilbar said...

i have a Modest Proposal, for a Simple Solution
If a person NEEDS a 'support animal', let them BUY A TICKET FOR THAT ANIMAL

what's THAT? you WON'T PAY for your support animal?
sound like you DON'T NEED your support animal

Seriously; space is limited... But YOU get to bring a miniature horse onboard? FREE?

I TRUST that IF you Really Need that support, YOU will pay for it
{actually, i trust that you're just a scam}

320Busdriver said...

Thank God that was fixed. Now our society can function again. /s

MikeR said...

Outrageous. I am not flying without my lice - I can't.

Martin said...

"Cheating" is no doubt part of the problem, but really, I don't care if the person actually needs their emotional support donkey, it has no place on a commercial flight.

Freeman Hunt said...

This is excellent news. No more untrained dogs turning up in the cabin.

Howard said...

The dogs I don't mind, Freeman. It's the people who need emotional support animals that should ride in the baggage hold.

Gordon Scott said...

I rode on a Southwest flight next to a young couple and their German Shepherd. We were in the front row, plenty of room, no issues. The dog was well behaved. But I can imagine how awful it would be if he had been badly behaved.

David Begley is right about trust and elections. Minnesota's election laws were written based on it being a high-trust culture, which Minnesota used to have. But you introduce people who will take advantage of lax high-trust regulation and that system goes to hell quickly. Now, add 100,000 Somalis, who think Americans are stupid and gullible.

Readering said...

A topic all AA commenters can unite around?!?

Joe Smith said...

So Teddy the smiling dolphin is out?

To be honest, hauling around the 8,000 gallon aquarium was beginning to get tedious.

And don't even get me started on the smelt...

Joe Smith said...

"I rode on a Southwest flight next to a young couple and their German Shepherd."

I have also been on flights with large dogs underfoot.

I didn't particularly mind it, but many people have severe allergies to dog hair.

That would be a problem in a confined space.

Jupiter said...

"Sometimes you need rules."

I will point out, that the reason this problem exists in the first place is that some idiot made a rule. Or more precisely, that some idiot was empowered to make rules.

Normal humans receive such emotional support as we need from other humans, not from peacocks. But that doesn't mean your Mom flies for free. If you want to take your Mom along on your vacation, you need to buy her a ticket.

Night said...

What's the psychological term for when a quirk in personality starts rolling downhill? Becomes a fixation that gets stranger with each iteration? The person can't stop and assumes they are still normal?



People with emotional support animals would seem to fall into that category. Using an animal as a bubble.

Joe Smith said...

Next thing you know they'll be taking away emotional support sex dolls.

A sad day that will be, my friend.

Dr Weevil said...

I've always been dubious, verging on hostile, about the idea of emotional-support companion animals, but I have to admit that the only case I've personally dealt with was not a problem at all. At the local Shakespeare theater, I have twice seen a little old lady in the audience with her companion dog. She's 70+, maybe 80 pounds, with orthopedic shoes, and never speaks to anyone, including her dog. She sits in an aisle seat and her little Maltese/Pomeranian/whatever curls up next to her feet and never makes any noise either or bothers anyone in any way. Totally not a problem, though my reaction when I first saw her and her dog there was "Uh oh". I've since seen her once at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in D.C. I've never seen anyone try to talk to her or her dog, or try to pet her dog. She seems to be off in her own little world, but the world includes live Shakespeare, so it could be worse. She comes across as a deaf-mute, but is unlikely to be one: there's a school for the deaf and blind a few blocks from the local Shakespeare theater, and we often see blind kids at performances, usually close up to the stage (I assume it's easier to tell what's going on if the voices are coming from distinctly different directions), but I've only seen the deaf kids at plays when there was a sign-language interpreter, and that doesn't happen often: translating Shakespeare into sign-language for simultaneous rendtion takes a LOT of preparation. I don't think a deaf-mute would get much out of live Shakespeare without a sign-language interpreter.

Come to think of it, maybe I have seen one other emotional support animal. Visiting an antique store NE of Charlottesville a year or two ago, I once ran into a 30-something couple pushing a baby carriage around the store with a baby-sized pig in it, wrapped up in blankets and maybe (don't recall now) baby clothes. Didn't quite have the nerve to take a picture. Friend I was with adroitly avoided the question of whether to say "What a lovely baby!" or "What a lovely pig!" by just saying "How lovely!".

h said...

There is a long history of fascination for "utopian socialism" broadly construed. The success of these kinds of social organizations is that people will set aside their personal interests in order to act for the interest of the group. A nuclear family is an example of a successful social organization of this type. But efforts to extend this to larger social groups inevitably fail. (Brook farm in 19th century Massachusetts is a good example.) We might find examples where cooperative behavior can be imposed on a social order by a strong authoritarian leader. I know there are commenters on this blog who are much better biblical scholars than am I, but I think it's fair to say that early Christian communities tried (and failed) at cooperative social organization. (Isn't there a letter from Paul in which he lays down the rule those that refuse to work can't share in the communal food supply?) What Leonhard wants in air travel behavior is a utopian ideal in which no one tries to take advantage of "rules" or lack of rules that would allow them to bring their pet on a trip without paying the stowage fee and submitting the pet to the unpleasantness of being crated for an extended period.

n.n said...

by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.


Religious/moral (i.e. universal frame of reference) for people capable of self-moderation. Competing interests to mitigate progress of others running amuck.

0_0 said...

Do you want to make someone really angry?

Politely suggest that they not carry their obviously not-a-support animal through the grocery store and paw through the produce with the same hands currently being licked by their butt tasting chihuahua.

Real service animals are acceptable in a restaurant. Fakers exploiting the ADA are parasites.

Rabel said...

"Sometimes you need rules."

For Heaven's sake, it was an interpretation of the Air Carrier Access Act by the DOT that made the absurd "rule" that the airlines must accept emotional support animals.

mockturtle said...

Dr Weevil reports: Friend I was with adroitly avoided the question of whether to say "What a lovely baby!" or "What a lovely pig!" by just saying "How lovely!".

Should've said, "Why, she looks just like her mother!"

Lurker21 said...

I guess I should just have eaten my support turkey when I had the chance.

Joe Smith said...

"I guess I should just have eaten my support turkey when I had the chance."

Although many prefer other tasty meats for Christmas, your turkey is still a potential menu item...do not despair.

Bruce Hayden said...

“ This part is interesting: "Transportation Department officials previously said they limited the definition of service animal to dogs because the vast majority of service animals are canines."

“The ADA was revised some time ago (before the emotional support animal kerfuffle) to define service animal to only include dogs; before that, it could also include miniature horses. I wonder why the Transportation Department would use a different definition for service animals than the ADA does.”

That’s a bummer. We were going to train our cat to be a service animal. Up until last summer my partner had vision issues (mostly, to our surprise, corrected by cataract surgery), and really needed someone, or some animal, to detect obstacles. That usually meant me, and that didn’t make her very independent. I remember her crashing onto the concrete, having not seen a six inch high bumper for cars and trucks. Not only would we save maybe $100 per flight, but also every time we stay in a hotel. Plus, he probably has outgrown Hs TSA approved under seat carrier, and bigger carriers have to go underneath, in pressurized baggage. Instead, he could just sit in our laps.

Rockport Conservative said...

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."
Funny you should quote this with support animals when so much of this is happening with election fraud. It is a perfect line for the nation today.