Association of Flight Attendants call on DOT to take action against abuse of emotional support animals

Association of Flight Attendants has released the findings of a new national survey of flight attendants that reported that over 98% of all respondents had worked a flight with at least one emotional support animal onboard in the last 24 months, the company said.

AFA has called on the Department of Transportation to take action to limit abuse of the ´emotional support animal´ designation in the system. Eighty-two percent of all responding flight attendants strongly believe a consistent policy throughout the airline industry is needed to define requirements while supporting passengers with disabilities and veterans.

Sixty-one percent of the responding flight attendants reported working a flight where an emotional support animal caused a disruption in the cabin; 53% of the disruptions included aggressive or threatening behavior by the animal. Examples include a dog snapping at a flight attendant´s heel when they walked by or in another case bit a flight attendant while they attempted to set a beverage on the tray table. Flight attendants also reported repeated barking, snapping, and lunging at crewmembers, passengers, and even children.

Forty-three percent of the disruptions included animals failing to fit in the designated space, roaming about the cabin, and barking consistently throughout the flight. One bird was lost in the cabin for 45 minutes, one dog was in the aisle of the aircraft the entire flight, blocking the path of egress. Responding flight attendants also reported animals often getting loose in the cabin after their owner fell asleep during flight.

Animals identified in the survey were primarily dogs and cats, but also included household birds (parrot, finch, etc.), rodents (hamster, guinea pig, etc.), pigs, reptiles, and non-household birds. Nearly 5,000 responses from flight attendants across 30 airlines were collected from July 20, 2018 through August 6, 2018.

The Association of Flight Attendants is the Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 73 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO.