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The trend of airlines tightening rules on emotional support animals has reached Spirit. Starting Oct. 15, the budget airline will be adding a wealth of new regulations to its service pet policy.

The new policies were posted recently on Spirit Airlines’ website and require significantly more paperwork than their original, single letter from a licensed mental health professional. Now, travelers must submit an additional two forms including the mental health professional form, a veterinary health form and a passenger liability form. All paperwork is due 48 hours before the flight, or the service animal will not be permitted on the plane.

Airlines increasing their regulations on service animals is nothing new. In fact, it’s been a movement since Delta swapped its original policy for something stricter back in January. Following this, new policies followed from United and American Airlines, and last month Southwest hopped aboard when it limited permissible emotional support animals to just cats and dogs.

Spirit isn’t quite there yet, however it does have a lengthy list of emotional support animals that aren’t allowed aboard such as snakes, rodents, reptiles and sugar gliders. “For other unusual animals, several factors determine whether an animal can travel in the cabin as a service animal,” states the Spirit Airlines’ website. “These factors include: the animal’s size, whether the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, whether it would cause a significant disruption of cabin service, and whether the animal is prohibited from entering a foreign country.”

While the increase in limitations is bad news to anyone who needs to travel with their furry companion, it might be beneficial for the airlines themselves. According to a survey conducted in summer 2018, 61% of flight attendants admitted that they do struggle with the emotional support animals misbehaving during flights. 

“The problem is only growing and is something that needs to be addressed on an industry-wide level through regulation instead of individual airline policies,” said Taylor Garland, a spokeswoman for the flight attendant union AFA.

Featured image by Richard Atrero de Guzman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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