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Wed Aug 14, 2019, 08:48 PM

Woman's First Class Seat Was Taken by an Emotional Support Animal

Katie Genter

I’ve certainly had some interesting experiences in the more than 200 flights I’ve flown since the start of 2018. But last week, something new happened when I boarded an American Airlines flight from Charlotte (CLT) to Atlanta (ATL): my first class seat had been taken by an emotional support animal. Here’s the full story, as well as each US carrier’s policy on emotional support animals sitting in passenger seats.

I’d been working in the Admiral’s Club prior to my flight, so I arrived at the gate about seven minutes after boarding was scheduled to begin. When I arrived, the gate area was empty and the screen displayed Group 9. So, I wasn’t surprised to see a full first class cabin and a flight attendant distributing pre-departure beverages when I boarded. But, I was surprised to see a small dog occupying my seat.

The passenger sitting next to the dog — the dog’s owner — was on his cellphone, so it took some time for me to catch his attention and convey that his dog was in my seat. He continued his cellphone conversation but slowly moved the dog to the ground and then into the aisle before turning his knees slightly so I could slide past him to 4F. Once I was in my seat, he relayed to the woman on the other end of his cellphone conversation that “Sully lost her window seat.”

Based on its harness, the dog seemed to be traveling as an emotional support animal. The dog laid on the floor between our seats for the first half of the flight, which meant I had to be careful when I moved my legs or got items from my bag. The man held the dog in his lap for the second half of the short flight.

We could debate the merits of emotional support animals (ESAs) and whether this animal should even be considered an ESA. But disregarding that aspect, the issue here is that American Airlines has behavior guidelines for ESAs — yet this passenger ignored many of the outlined rules.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/article/my-first-class-seat-was-taken-by-an-emotional-support-animal/ar-AAFKfji?li=BBnb7Kz

The last time I flew I was seated by a woman with a small dog but she kept it under in one of those kennel/ pet carriers. At one point the case was opened but the dog sat there and behaved itself.

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Reply Woman's First Class Seat Was Taken by an Emotional Support Animal (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Wednesday OP
madaboutharry Wednesday #1
yellowcanine Wednesday #9
treestar Wednesday #18
kcr Thursday #21
msongs Wednesday #2
HipChick Wednesday #6
MurrayDelph Wednesday #15
LanternWaste Thursday #23
jaysunb Wednesday #3
Archae Wednesday #4
Pachamama Wednesday #5
Aristus Wednesday #7
spinbaby Wednesday #8
Demovictory9 Wednesday #10
Turbineguy Wednesday #11
marked50 Wednesday #12
PoindexterOglethorpe Thursday #19
a la izquierda Thursday #20
abqtommy Wednesday #13
StatGirl Wednesday #14
Maru Kitteh Wednesday #16
leftstreet Wednesday #17
brooklynite Thursday #22

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 08:55 PM

1. The headline of the article is misleading.

I have some issues about ESA on airplanes as I think the practice can be abused.

When I first looked at the headline, it caused me to think the passenger was forced to give up her seat to a dog. The headline is false and doesn’t accurately describe what happened.

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Response to madaboutharry (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 09:17 PM

9. I agree. That's messed up.

Lots of times a seat is temporarily occupied by the wrong passenger during the boarding process. It is not comment worthy. This is almost click bait.

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Response to madaboutharry (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 11:23 PM

18. +1

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Response to madaboutharry (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 15, 2019, 10:29 AM

21. Yes. The passenger didn't lose her seat.

Not that it excuses the guy letting his dog sit there, but it's not quite as outrageous.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 08:55 PM

2. dogs do not belong in passenger compartments of airplanes IMO

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Response to msongs (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 08:59 PM

6. What is you are allergic to dogs?

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Response to msongs (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 11:05 PM

15. not unless it's a specialized flight

Treating a pet as checked luggage can be injurious to its health. That's why when I travel with my dogs, i drive them, stay at pet-friendly motels, and (if I'm the only human in the car) make all my pit stops at Petco/PetSmart where I can bring them in rather than leave them in the car in the sun. *

That said, if I did have to transport my dogs by air, there are companies that charter flight spaces for them, so that they can travel safely in a pressurized cabin.

* (The one time I did have to make an emergency bathroom break at a roadside rest without sufficient shade, I took advantage of the kindness of a family of German tourists having lunch at a picnic table to hold her lead while I ran in quickly)

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Response to msongs (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 15, 2019, 11:04 AM

23. No more than hipsters...

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 08:56 PM

3. To hell with ESAs

I've had your experience and many others like it in 1st class where I paid double to avoid the cattle call in the rear only to have to put up w/ someone's animal they think is human.
Grrrr.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 08:58 PM

4. "Emotional support" animals is a scam.

A scam to get animals into planes, restaurants, etc.

And I've seen people claiming a CHICKEN was an "emotional support animal."
A chicken??!!??

As is, the laws involved in training the animals, and for that matter what the animals even ARE, is very haphazard, at best right now.

Heck, my two cats are my "emotional support."

But I'm not going to take them into a restaurant or a plane.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 08:58 PM

5. Even guide dogs for blind are not allowed on/in seats and have to be on floor

The flight attendants should have said to this passenger the second they saw him that animal may not be in a seat.

It sucks when a passenger who is being wronged of their seat they purchased and that the crew is t doing their job.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 09:04 PM

7. I stopped honoring requests for documentation of ESA's long ago.

It's not to say that the person in question is not benefitting from the animal's company. But the opportunities for abuse are myriad. So I refer patients wanting a note to take their yappy little purse-dog everywhere to our behavioral health department. Let them deal with it.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 09:11 PM

8. It's becoming a total scam

I’ve recently witnessed a Yorkie peeing on a mannequin and a miniature poodle wearing a tutu, both in public as “service” dogs.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 09:28 PM

10. "Sully lost her window seat"

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Response to Demovictory9 (Reply #10)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 09:46 PM

11. Being that guy's friend....

What a penance.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 10:16 PM

12. Sort of off-topic for this OP but it has seemed to me

that the apparent increase in people claiming their dog as a support animal, esp emotional support label, is related to the increase in the people not leaving their dogs in their cars when they go somewhere. This isn't to say that they should leave their dogs in their cars but their awareness of not doing this creates a condition where they need to take the dog with them into whatever establishment they are going to. Hence, the rise in bogus "support animal" claims. Good for the dogs of course but bad for the cause of support animals. I certainly don't have a suggested solution- just making a connective observation.

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Response to marked50 (Reply #12)

Thu Aug 15, 2019, 12:09 AM

19. Leave your dog home.

Don't take it with you everywhere.

Cat owners know enough to leave the cat home. Why are so many dog owners such first class idiots?

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Response to marked50 (Reply #12)

Thu Aug 15, 2019, 01:05 AM

20. My dog stays home unless it's to go to the vet.

And he hates being in the car anyway, so whatever I have to do (shopping, etc) waits until the vet trip is over and the pup is back home.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 10:27 PM

13. My perspective comes from flying from Frankfurt

to New York with an upset and crying baby most of the way. I'll take a pet anytime, though I never saw a cat or dog in passenger space on a flight but that was many years ago around 1995.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 10:38 PM

14. In this case, the problem was really the a-hole dog owner

It sounds as if the dog was well-enough behaved.

Where on earth do people get that sense of entitlement? He was just trying to bully her into giving up her seat.

And she's right that the flight attendant should have put a stop to it instantly.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 11:19 PM

16. First World "Problems"

Boo. Fucking. Hoo.


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Response to Maru Kitteh (Reply #16)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 11:21 PM

17. +1

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Thu Aug 15, 2019, 10:41 AM

22. I was once on a flight with three ESAs, all of them out of their carriers.

In fairness, I don't interpret this as "taking a seat". The writer boarded late, so the passenger may have assumed the seat from free. my wife and I will frequently book an aisle/window combination, on the assumption that the middle seat will be the last to go, and take the middle seat so we can sit together. If anyone shows up for the middle seat, they're happy to take the aisle.

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