Airline bans of emotional support animals could boost private jet demand

By Doug Gollan, January 13, 2021

As American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines join Alaska Airlines in banning emotional support animals, private jet charters and jet cards stand to benefit

Consumers need to check with providers as private jet operators each have different rules for pet travel

Add traveling with emotional support animals to the list of tailwinds that may help the rebound for private jet providers in 2021.

With the COVID-19 pandemic worsening, cases and deaths increasing, private jet travel already seems well placed to continue its recovery.

At the end of last year, charter and jet card flights had rebounded to more than 90% of pre-COVID levels while airlines saw passenger volume hover around a third of where it should be.

Affluent consumers who normally used airlines have been drawn to private jets to reduce exposure to the deadly virus. There are less than 20 touch points when flying privately compared to over 700 with the airlines.

The new, more pervasive strain of COVID has only heightened concerns that it’s impossible to effectively social distance on an airliner with 150 other people or transiting airports.

What’s more, as airlines reduced schedules, many travelers have found it more difficult to find nonstop flights, again, adding to the preference for private travel.

At the end of December, Alaska Airlines was the first major U.S. airline to say it would restrict emotional support animals, according to USA Today.

The Department of Transportation said it longer requires airlines to make the same accommodations for emotional support animals as is required for trained service dogs. 

Changes to the DOT rules came after feedback from the airline industry and disability community regarding numerous instances of emotional support animal misbehavior, which caused injuries, health hazards, and damage to aircraft cabins. 

Some passengers have been trying to pass off their pets as support animals – be they cats, rabbits, or birds – as trained service dogs.

According to USA Today, more than 80 veterans and disability groups endorsed banning untrained emotional support animals in airline cabins.

Bringing pets on private jets

Assuming your monkey, rabbit, cat, or even dog can automatically fly on a private jet is wrong.

Not all private jets accept pets. Much of the U.S. charter fleet is managed aircraft. The owner of each aircraft can stipulate to the operator if they want pets on their jets and what types.

While many jet card programs allow pets, in most cases, you are required to notify the provider at the time of booking, and in some cases, a longer period in advance. You will also have to follow any rules and policies. In other words, expect your snake will have to stay in its cage.

You will also be liable for any cleaning fees, and in some cases, there are automatic cleaning charges, usually in the $250 to $500 range.

If your emotional support animal damages the aircraft, expect to be charged for the repairs. A scratched table can cost several thousand dollars.

According to the newspaper report, some passengers classified their pets as service animals to avoid extra fees charged by the airlines for bringing along your pet.

While jet cards and charters may allow you to bring your emotional support animals, make sure you provide details about the type of animal in advance and expect to pay for any damage or cleaning that’s needed afterward.

Subscribers to Private Jet Card Comparisons compared pet policies for over 50 jet card providers in one place.

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