Alaska Airlines is cracking down on people who use emotional-support animals to let their pets fly free

  • Alaska Airlines has announced a new policy for passengers travelling with emotional support and psychiatric service animals.
  • On Thursday, the airline said all passengers with emotional support and psychiatric service animals must provide documents stating their behavioural abilities and medical necessity.
  • The policy change resembles those introduced by Delta and United Airlines in recent months.

Alaska Airlines has announced a new policy for passengers travelling with emotional support and psychiatric service animals.

On Thursday, the airline said all passengers with emotional support and psychiatric service animals must provide documents that state the animal is able to behave in public and can fit within the passenger’s seat space, as well as a signed document from a licensed medical or mental health professional that confirms the professional is treating the passenger for a certified mental-health related disability at least 48 hours in advance of a flight.

The new policy applies to tickets purchased on or after May 1.

The airline said that it has seen a significant increase in the number of emotional support and psychiatric service animals travelling on its flights, and a corresponding increase in incidents involving animals.

“Most animals cause no problems,” Alaska Airlines’ director of customer advocacy Ray Prentice said in a press release. “However, over the last few years, we have observed a steady increase in incidents from animals who haven’t been adequately trained to behave in a busy airport setting or on a plane, which has prompted us to strengthen our policy.”

You can download the new emotional support and psychiatric service animal documents here.

Emotional support animals have become a challenge for airlines, as they have faced incidents where emotional support animals have harmed passengers, as well as instances where passengers have tried to bring unconventional emotional support animals on flights.

Delta and United Airlines have also introduced new policies governing emotional support animals that resemble those set forth by Alaska Airlines, requiring paperwork that asserts the behavioural ability and medical necessity of an emotional support animal.

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