Flying with Emotional Support Animal

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Pets are comforting companions for kids and adults alike. There is no denying that pets keep us healthy and relieve stress. They play with us and show us unconditional love.

Lately keeping a pet as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)– an untrained companion of any species that provides solace to someone with a disability, such as anxiety or depression is becoming , should I say “fashionable’ for lack of a better word.

And an increasing number of pet owners have of late been taking their pets  into public spaces including travelling in airplanes , more so in the cabins -rather than the holds—simply by claiming that the creatures are  their licensed companion animals and are necessary to their mental well-being.

The list of weird and wondrous beasts that have accompanied their owners on scheduled flights in the US includes a turkey, a kangaroo, and a duck by the name of Mr. Stinkerbutt and a miniature Appaloosa horse.

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There was also a peacock, who was turned away by United for not meeting its guidelines of weight and size, despite of the owner who offered to buy a separate ticket, and Hobey the pot-bellied pig took a pre-takeoff dump in the aisle of an American Airlines flight and both pig and owner were ushered off – proof that peacocks and pigs really can’t fly.

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Luckily the good citizens of the US of A have the law on their side. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

As noble as it is intended, the purpose of the law is to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, including equal rights of employment, housing and also the same rights to transportation aboard public entities such as airlines.

If a disabled person requires the assistance of a service animal the airline must accommodate the service animal, but there’s more to it than that. The key difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog is whether the animal has been trained to perform a specific task or job directly related to the person’s disability. For example, service dogs are trained to alert a hearing-impaired person to an alarm or to guide a visually impaired person around an obstacle.

So when pet owners insist on taking along an animal for want of emotional support all they need is an exemption- a letter from a certified healthcare provider, stating that the animal provides emotional support that eases one or more of the symptoms or effects of the disability, to substantiate their claims and Bingo! – They are legally entitled to take their friend along when they fly.

The United States – Air Carrier Access Act entitles passengers to fly with their E.S.A. at no extra charge, although airlines typically require the animal to stay on the lap or under the seat.

But Airlines are now fighting back. Between 2016 and 2018 the number of passengers taking their ESA on a flight in the US has increased from 561,000 to more than 1 million. And with that, the number of incidents involving ESAs pooing, peeing or biting other passengers and cabin crew have also increased.

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Many airlines have changed their policies when it comes to flying with an emotional support animal. Which is why most carriers are now either banning ESAs from flights over eight hours or putting in stipulated conditions for flying with ESA’s such as-

  • Banning specific animals from the cabin, including amphibians, ferrets, goats, hedgehogs, insects, reptiles, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders and any animal with tusks, horns or hooves.
  • The animals must be able to fit at the passengers’ feet, under the seat and are small enough to “fit fully on the passengers’ lap without touching any part of the seat or adjacent customers.
  • The animal cannot be seated in an exit row, block aisles, occupy seats or eat from tray tables.
  • The animals will have to remain leashed throughout the flight.

Airline employees are now able to exclude animals they consider to be a safety risk. While airlines might have thousands of trained service animals flying in a month, they may need to accommodate much more as untrained support animals in the already constrained cabin. Untrained animals have not only attacked trained service dogs, but also bitten flight attendants and other passengers. Not to mention, pets could also be the reason for spreading certain allergens.

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Whether one truly and genuinely needs a support animal travelling with them needs to have strict and proper guidelines/rules to ensure access to service animal assistance for people with disabilities , while maintaining the safety, health and security of all other passengers and crew onboard planes.

 

 

 

 

PC:The Sun;CNBC;United Airlines;CBS News;LoyaltyLobby

Qantas ‘Project Sunrise’

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There is a palpable excitement in the air. The clock is ticking on, following the announcement that Qantas has put out on for testing an extremely long haul flight from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to London and New York.

Both Boeing and Airbus are working on providing an aircraft with ultra-long-range capabilities. The chosen plane needs to be capable of flying 10,573 miles nonstop, a journey which is pegged to take in the range of 21 hours in total.

Qantas will select the aircraft by end of this year. Till then the global attention is on the airline and speculation about its choice of aircraft is mounting.

‘Project Sunrise’ is Qantas’ goal to operate long haul research flights to gather data about both passenger and crew health on flying such a long journey. Three flights will be conducted in October, November and December and the data gathered will be used to track the health and well-being of passengers and crew members on board the approximately 19-hour long flight.

The Australian airline will carry 40 passengers and crew on two flights from New York to Sydney and another from London to Sydney.

The test passengers on the flights will mainly be Qantas employees, as well as scientists. Passengers and crew will be fitted with wearable technology devices to monitor sleep patterns and food and drink consumption, and to see how lighting, physical movement and in-flight entertainment impact their health.

For passengers the key will be in minimizing jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight.

For crew, it’s about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximize rest during these flights.

Long-haul travel takes its toll on the body. Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), blood clots that can form particularly in the legs, is one peril. Nausea, Jet Lag and back pain from sitting for too long are another.   Airlines like Qantas will have to consider allowing more space for passengers to move if it goes ahead with its ambitious plan of across the world non- stop flight..

If all goes well, Qantas aims to operate regular, non-stop flights to London and New York from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne as soon as 2022/23.

Frankly for business travellers this could be a time saver but I have my doubts whether any family with kids would be keen on taking this flight. It would be an absolute nightmare keeping the kids cooped up in such a long flight. The lack of space, boredom and sheer monotony of air travel would be such a bother even with business class seats –read flat beds.

What about you? Would you be sold to the idea of flying non- stop from Sydney to New York for 21 hours straight? Please share your views in the comments.

 

 

 

OS:SimpleFlying; AustralianAviation; Business Insider
PC: Qantas

 

 

Baby on Board !

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I love kids. The quiet, cute and cuddly kinds.

They make me all mooony when I see them throw an unintended smile at me. I wish I could lip-bite into their chubby cheeks or just tickle them on their tummy.

However travelling with them ….well that’s a completely different story!!

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I did travel a lot with my young ones. And although travelling with 2 little boys was quite a handful, I was mostly lucky when they would sleep through most of the flight. But you can’t be lucky always now can you?

There were always instances when everything would go topsy turvy, with either one of them being absolutely crabby, and then I would be spending most of the flight carrying them around the aisle so that the rogue would keep quiet!

Seriously, I would be a reck myself hoping that the fellow passengers do not throw me off the plane as well!!! And back in those days we didn’t have the luxury of travelling with mini screens full of entertainment to keep the tots occupied till they got tired and fell asleep.

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Travelling with a ‘hangry’ cry baby can be a nerve racking experience especially on a long haul flight. After all, tots can be messy, tantrum throwing, and easily bored little creatures when confined to a cramped aircraft seat.

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Some of the tips that I am about to share have helped me survive on what otherwise would have been every flyers worst nightmare!

  • Carry their favourite toy or their ‘security blankie’ always. It keeps them secure and comfy.
  • Monitor their eating even on a plane. If it means having to carry some of their favourite snacks, it will be well worth the trouble. Remember if they are fed they will be less cranky. Keep an empty bottle handy which you can refill with water every now and then to keep them hydrated.
  • Carry their activity books, some Flash cards or sticker books or you can even use that in-flight magazine to play I Spy, or even let the child interact with other flyers as long as they are both enjoying it.
  • Pack a few items which are multiple purposes. Baby wipes, for example, can be used to clean messy hands or tray tables or get food off of clothes. A fleece jacket can also be doubled up as a blanket, pillow or even help you cover up if you are a nursing mother.
  • In this digital age don’t be too strict with ‘screen time’ while travelling with kids. Download their favourite content before you set out. That way they will be quiet and comfortable, and so will you.

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Plan your trip the best you can — and then just roll with it. Booking red-eye flights, for example, or flights that coincide with nap times, can help reduce the need for a lot of in-flight entertainment.

While you plan hotel accommodations, don’t forget to stay somewhere with space to explore. Kids hate being cooped up in small spaces. So to avoid meltdowns, try to stay near places that they can run around and explore.

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TOP TIP: Put empty water bottles in hand luggage and refill them after security.

TOP TIP: Psychologists say young, nervous flyers like to feel in control of their situation and that toy planes they can pretend to fly may help

TOP TIP: Be ready with distractions if your children don’t like seat belts and have sweets at take-off and landing to avoid blocked ears.

TOP TIP: Cabin crew say one toddler is sick on almost every long flight, which is why children need top-to-toe changes of clothes and parents need spare T-shirts. It’s why wet-wipes and plastic bags for smelly clothes are ‘must-carry’ items.

TOP TIP: Try to catch a few winks when your baby is asleep. It will renew your energy too.

TOP TIP: It’s a good idea to let the child roam around and stretch their legs at airports in between inter connecting flights.

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To be clear, these tips aren’t meant for everyone. Every kid — not to mention every trip — is going to be different. What you plan to do and where you plan to go may mean that some of these suggestions just aren’t feasible. And that’s completely OK.

And lastly keep your composure. There’s not much you can do to tone down that passenger who complains the moment your child sneezes or giggles. Here’s what you need to remember: As long as you’re trying (and what parent isn’t?), you’ve got almost everyone on your side.

 

Safe travels

Madhavi