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.

 

 

 

 

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Elite Economy class

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The landscape of air travel in the country has changed and evolved over the past few years with a lot more people opting to fly rather than use the train especially in the domestic Indian sectors.

Even though there are concerns around the overall slump in the aviation sector, there has been a growth in the number of flyers. With more routes becoming available, and as economy class fares become more passenger-friendly, airlines have invested a lot into improving their product. This is the reason why the demand for a premium seat is becoming increasingly popular.

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The trend started in the early 1990s when Taiwanese EVA Air introduced an extra class above economy, followed by Virgin Atlantic in 1992. The class made its real debut around 2007 when airlines like Qantas and Air New Zealand started offering it. The success has lead to a handful of Asian carriers launching the product like JAL, ANA, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.

Airlines saw Premium Economy also known as the elite Economy Class ,as an opportunity to target travellers who don’t want to pay the price for a business class seat, but don’t mind forking out a wee bit more for a few extra ‘luxuries’ when flying.

Typically long haul Business Class products offer fully flat beds, and a guaranteed aisle access.  This leaves a space on the plane for Premium Economy.

Most premium economy seats have a deeper recline that gives you more comfort in-flight and a better sleep.

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Along with that in Premium Economy you’ll be able to take advantage of Business Class perks, such as priority check-ins, and access to airport lounges. Passengers are willing to splurge and at the same time enjoy the worth of every penny invested in air travel.

Some facts

  1. A Premium Economy fare is generally 65% less expensive than a business class fare. You will not have the same level of service or comfort but you will be assured a more comfortable and relaxing journey.
  2. A typical Premium Economy fare includes around 5-7 inches of extra legroom, wider seats, and more space to recline.
  3. You may also have a separate food menu and enhanced entertainment.

The winners of the the Skytrax World Airline Awards for the best Premium Economy airline seats for 2019 are

  1. Virgin Atlantic
  2. Air New Zealand
  3. Qantas Airways
  4. China Airlines
  5. Singapore Airlines
  6. Japan Airlines
  7. Aeroflot
  8. Lufthansa
  9. Azerbaijan Airlines
  10. Air France

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Generally speaking, airlines price tickets based on supply and demand, so there’s no set formula to determine what price you can expect to pay for a Premium Economy class seat. Sometimes it could also be double the cost of an economy ticket

That being said, premium economy can be of good value when flying compared to economy, the question is, how much are you willing to pay for that privilege? It also depends on your personal situation. If you’re a tall person, that extra legroom could make a huge difference in your comfort. Now, if you’re traveling for business, it might be company policy that business class is not allowed, so premium economy would make an excellent alternative.

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Most airlines will try their best to get people to pay for the premium seats before they offer them up for free. However, it’s quite common for premium economy seats to be offered at a discount when you’re at the gate. In this case, it would be on a first come, first serve basis.

With a marginal price increase over the cost of an economy class seat and for a fraction of the cost of a business-class ticket, premium economy seat offer a significant upgrade for travellers.

Have you ever travelled Premium economy? Do share your experience via the comments. Thank you .

 

 

PC: Skyscanner;Traveller AU;China Airlines;Singapore Airlines;Phillipine Airlines;Always Mag;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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