Faking Disabilities So Emotional Service Animals Can Fly With You

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Here’s an article from the NY Post for you to ponder, “People are faking disabilities to fly with their pets.” I have covered this topic before, however it looks like this issue might be snowballing a bit according to this article. The article mentions instances of people bringing miniature horses into First Class. What?

Faking Disabilities So Emotional Service Animals Can Fly With You 

The article explains how people are taking advantage of a rule that their animals are ‘deemed “necessary” to their emotional well-being, a classification that falls under the Air Carrier Access Act. Originally meant for those who could barely function without the support of an animal, it is now broadly used by people who enjoy the comfort of their pets.’

Faking Disabilities So Emotional Service Animals Can Fly With You

Picture by The Weekly Flyer

For a pet to be classified as an emotional support animal, an owner needs a note from a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. Entrepreneurial types have caught on to the business opportunity of providing such notes; countless sites now provide emotional support vests and necessary letters for fees ranging from $59 to $200. Airlines are usually very compliant, because fines for refusing legitimate support animals can run as high as $150,000.

Bottom Line

What do you think? How would you react to some of the situations that the article describes, such as a miniature horse in First Class next to you? Hit the comments.

I would not be happy flying next to most of the animals that this article talks about, especially if they are disruptive in flight.

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About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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Comments

  1. It is hard because ADA laws make even asking about the nature of a disability illegal. So it is truly a shame that many legitimate people needing special service are written off because of the overwhelming majority of people trying to avoid a fee. I wish we had a national system like a handicap parking pass for service animals.

    You can usually tell the fake “emotional support” from true “service” pets by their behavior.

  2. This kind of behavior caused Disneyland to change their disability access for rides as people hired someone with a disability to attend Disneyland with their group for quicker ride access. Made it more difficult for Disney visits with my family where we relied on that service to make the trip bearable without long periods standing in line. My father and sister enjoy Disneyland, but can’t stand around for extended periods.

  3. ill admit i did this. my dog is my world and he got cancer at age 2 with a 1 yr life expectancy so I wanted him to be with me as much as possible during that year. not ashamed.

  4. You mean to tell me there are people out there who take advantage of policies and laws and essentially commit fraud to get what they want? No way. I for one am shocked.

  5. My wife I and have 2 dogs, small Chihuahuas, about 5 and 10 pounds each. Whenever we cannot get a neighbor to watch them, or if we go on a long trip where that is too much hassle for them, we will usually bring them to either my moms house in boston or my inlaws in florida.

    Instead of going this ridiculous route, which I am sure we could since my wife battles anxiety during flights as a result of her grandfather having a heart attack and passing during one, we do not.

    Instead, we do something shady, but in my mind not nearly as bad – we don’t tell the airline, and we just take them on quietly. Luckily, they are well behaved and cause less disruption than most passengers, but I cannot justify the $100-$125 per dog, per flight fees that they assess, all the while I am required to use my own under the seat space for them.

    Thoughts on which way is better? The downside to our way is we have to leave them in the carrier from start to finish, but I think that is better for the other passengers anyway, and the dogs don’t mind too much.

  6. Sorry, if your pet is your life then don’t travel if you can’t pay the fees. What makes you think that you are special or that the rest of us should subsidize your personal preferences?

    The amount of “special” people in the US is going to destroy us. Everyone will be a protected class. Those with pets. Those with pet rocks. Those who are underslept. Those who are depressed.

    Thanks for giving idiotic right-wing candidates a dais. Your shenanigans ruin things for all the people who really need help and support.

  7. Anon some of us don’t have the ability to “not travel”. Furthermore, the reason we all read this blog is because travel is a passion of ours. Your beloved “like a child” pet getting cancer at age 2 with a 1 yr life expectancy is devastating enough and you want me to give up my passion for travel on top of that? Get over yourself! And most of us are already walking a fine ethical line in this hobby of travel hacking so we don’t really have room to judge others who are “cheating the system”.

  8. @reader – just read your own writing to see how ridiculous you are. Your slippery slope argument fails in every way.

    1. You are a grown adult. Everyone’s life involves trade offs. No one is saying “don’t travel”. If you wish to travel with your pet, pay the concordant fees and do as everyone else does rather than justifying your excuse for stealing/cheating.

    2. Why justify your stealing/cheating by saying that “travel hacking” is unethical? Don’t become some sort of sad moral relativist.

    The fact of the matter is you know what you are doing is wrong. Don’t look to the rest of us to justify the things you do. There are lots of poor people on this earth who would love to travel. Many of those poor people don’t have many years of life ahead. Would you think it okay for them to steal travel or food or anything else?

    What’s next? “I have a love for expensive clothes! I must, must only wear Gucci, Prada, and Versace” Are you going to justify being a shoplifter too now?

  9. if i could just pay a fee i would. he’s too big to fit under seat in front of me. i never said what i was doing wasn’t wrong….he is officially certified so its not against the rules its just in the gray area ethically, just like travel hacking. we’re all working within the rules/laws, including myself. never said I needed ur justification either….i dont. im simply being transparent and admitting that i do it, and im not sorry about it. what im doing isn’t considered stealing at all so actually YOUR arguments make no sense. 🙂

  10. on a flight last week to atl a woman (looked healthy and young) took her littletiny dog our of the bag and sat it on her lap for the entire trip???? the FA said it is her service dog and can be out of the bag!!!??nuts

  11. if you’re allergic simply tell the flight attendant and ask to switch seats. although I don’t see your allergies flaring up unless you directly interact with the dog anymore so then they would buy sitting next to someone whose clothes blanket etc are already covered in dog hair.

  12. I would definitely sit next to a dog or animal of any kind rather than some spoiled kids that have darkened my seating area in my past flights. Animals in general are much better behaved that many young children who should not be permitted to fly until they can listen and adhere to airline rules.
    And by the way I have two children, have taught at multiple levels for over thirty years and have worked with animals for at least that long so don’t even try that accusatory comment of “something” hater!

  13. @AnonCHI let me break this down for you…

    Sorry, if your pet is your life then don’t travel if you can’t pay the fees. *I can pay the fees, have paid the fees, and no longer do… does that impact your flight in anyway? Are you sad that the airline is loosing out in revenue, and you would prefer me to pay $400+ each roundtrip?

    What makes you think that you are special or that the rest of us should subsidize your personal preferences? *Again, how are you or anyone else subsidizing my personal preferences? See above.

    The amount of “special” people in the US is going to destroy us. Everyone will be a protected class. Those with pets. Those with pet rocks. Those who are underslept. Those who are depressed. *I guess you’re not ‘Special” huh?

    Thanks for giving idiotic right-wing candidates a dais. Your shenanigans ruin things for all the people who really need help and support. *What? You make no sense here. As I said, instead of going the route of registering them as emotional support animals, which in todays terms my wife would qualify for, we do not want to dilute the system. If we get caught, we will pay the fees, end of – but we have found a way around exorbitant fees, and like Reader said, everyone on here would rather pay less, and we are the same.

    I do feel bad for people with allergies, as my wife is allergic to peanuts. You know how she copes with that? Medicine for that exact purpose, cleansing wipes for our seats/area, and to request different seats if people right next to her or I are eating peanuts. Her Allergies are her problem, not everyone else’s.

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