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“Call It a Comfort and Support Dog,” United FAs Flout the Rules for Coworker

“View from the Wing” blogger Gary Leff used his most recent column to share the tale of “the most egregious emotional support dog” story ever. It isn’t news to frequent flyers that the number and variety of emotional support animals in the cabins of commercial passenger planes has nearly reached a breaking point recently. Now,…



“View from the Wing” blogger Gary Leff used his most recent column to share the tale of “the most egregious emotional support dog” story ever.

It isn’t news to frequent flyers that the number and variety of emotional support animals in the cabins of commercial passenger planes has nearly reached a breaking point recently. Now, it seems airline employees (who have claimed for years that their hands are tied when it comes to stopping passengers from abusing the system) are becoming part of the problem themselves.

There are plenty of reasons to suspect that passengers might be gaming the system when it comes to bringing pets on planes in guise of being support animals. An emotional support duck hardly seems like a medical necessity. There must be a better way of coping with anxiety than introducing a airline-emotional-support-animal_n_8995458.html” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>70-pound pig to an already cramped airplane cabin and the words “emotional support turkey” only really make sense in reference to a sandwich.

Of course, flight attendants who call shenanigans on dubious claims that pets are federally protected animal assistants can put themselves in the hot seat. Spirit Airlines, for example, made unwanted newspaper headlines when a crew removed a disabled military veteran from a flight because of her emotional support pit bull companion.

The accusation levied by travel writer Gary Leff in this week’s “View from the Wing” column is especially troubling because it involves United Airlines cabin crew members allegedly bending already-abused rules about pets on planes for their own benefit. Leff relates an eyewitness’s account (complete with photographic evidence) of a pet bull dog being treated to premium class accommodations simply because the dog’s proud owner was an off-duty United Airlines flight attendant. While pets are (by air lines regulations) not permitted in the forward cabin of the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Boston Logan International Airport-bound Boeing-757, cabin crew members on the flight reportedly found a not-quite-above-board loophole for their traveling colleague.

According to one passenger’s account, the playful pit bull unceremoniously became an emotional support animal at the off-duty employee’s urging. The solution seems to have worked out well for the air line employees involved – as well as the first class pooch.

“Periodically, working flight attendants come by to chat and see the dog,” the whistle-blowing passenger reported. “A few hours into the flight, a flight attendant who later comes back with a phone with photos of a bulldog of her own on it spends a few minutes petting the dog, who is now in the lap of the traveling flight attendant.”


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Numerous Cities on List For Potentially Losing Air Travel



The ball is now in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s court when it comes to deciding whether to grant the request of domestic airlines to significantly trim certain cities and airport from their respective service lists.

And, ironically, it comes at a time when the majority of the country is starting to reopen for business in the wake of the effects from the coronavirus pandemic.

The government comment period on the matter ended on Thursday, leaving the matter to a decision by the DOT, which has not said when it will issue a ruling according to USA Today.

Airlines are looking to drop service to conserve some desperately needed cash, with demand for air travel having dropped to unprecedented lows. At one point, screenings by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) were off 94 percent compared to a similar date last year. But as a condition of accepting federal grants and loans as part of the CARES Act stimulus package, U.S. carriers needed to maintain the same amount of service it offered prior to the coronavirus impact as well as seek permission from the DOT to drop routes.

But the cuts could be devastating to small airports.

According to USA Today, Anthony Dudas, the airport director in Williston, North Dakota, said that the town is a gateway to the rich Bakken oil fields. Before the pandemic, it had five daily flights from United and Delta. Now, those flights have been reduced to one a day for each of the two airlines. If Delta is granted permission to suspend service, the community will be down even further – serving a $275 million airport that opened last year.

“While we understand the need for air carriers to have flexibility in adjusting schedules and services, we believe the impact from significantly reducing air service to western North Dakota will be enormous,” Dudas wrote.

Here is the list of cities that could be dropped.


Charleston, South Carolina

Columbus, Ohio

El Paso, Texas

New Orleans

San Antonio, Texas


New Orleans

Ogdensburg, New York

Palm Springs, California

San Antonio

Springfield, Illinois

Tucson, Arizona


Aspen, Colorado

Eagle, Colorado

Montrose/Delta, Colorado

Worcester, Massachusetts


Portland, Maine

Corvus Airlines

Goodnews Bay, Alaska

Kodiak, Alaska

Napakiak, Alaska

Napaskiak, Alaska

Platinum, Alaska


Aspen, Colorado

Bangor, Maine

Erie, Pennsylvania

Flint, Michigan

Fort Smith, Arkansas

Lincoln, Nebraska

New Bern/Morehead/Beaufort, North Carolina

Peoria, Illinois

Santa Barbara, California

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Williston, North Dakota


Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida


Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina

Mobile, Alabama

Palm Springs

Portland, Maine

Tyler, Texas


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Palm Springs

Sacramento, California

Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida

Worcester, Massachusetts

Seaborne Virgin Islands

Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands

Christiansted, Virgin Islands

Culebra, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Vieques, Puerto Rico


Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands

Huntsville, Alabama

Key West, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Tampa, Florida


Asheville, North Carolina

Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands

Christiansted, Virgin Islands

Greensboro/High Point, North Carolina

Plattsburgh, New York


Nashville, Tennessee


Madison, Wisconsin


Portland, Oregon


St. Louis, Missouri


Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton, Pennsylvania

Charlotte Amalie

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Fairbanks, Alaska

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Ithaca/Cortland, New York

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Key West, Florida

Lansing, Michigan

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Rochester, Minnesota

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