Recently there has been a lot of changes in the travel industry especially when it comes to airlines. The airlines have made some changes due to the COVID 19 outbreak and some of the changes are due to lawsuits the airline companies have experience etc.
Before you book a ticket make sure you check some policy changes that may affect you. There are a lot of airlines domestic and international but we tried to cover as much as we can.
1. No Change/Cancellation Fees Policies
Many airlines have changed their cancellations/change reservations due to the pandemic. However, it’s important to see the rules and regulations when you want to change or cancel your airline ticket so you won’t be surprised.
For instance, Delta Airlines is waiving change fees and award redepositing, issuing e-credit that can be used through December 31st, 2022. This applies to customers who purchased their tickets before April 17th, 2020 and scheduled to travel through March 31st, 2021.
Those who purchased their ticket between March 1st, 2020, and March 30th, 2021 can change their reservations without a fee or award deposit fees for a year from the date you purchased a ticket. With Emirates airlines for tickets issued on or before September 30th, 2020, and on or before October 1st, 2020 can be used later, you have 24 months or two years from the date you originally booked the ticket with no extra fees.
Qatar Airways is offering unlimited date changes, no fee refunds for tickets purchased before April 30th, 2021 for travel completed before December 31st, 2021.
Another option Qatar Airlines offers is exchanging tickets to travel vouchers with an additional 10% if you book a flight with them again, that can be good let’s say you were in economy class you can upgrade to business or first class.
2. Rules For Emotional Support Animals
Recently the use of emotional support animals has been a controversial issue among travelers. According to industry trade group Airlines for America report, it shows the number of emotional support animals traveling aboard commercial flights increased from 481,000 in 2016 to 751,000 in 2017.
This brought conflicts between passengers to passengers or cabin crews to passengers. There have been several incidents of emotional support animals misbehaving attacking other passengers or cabin crews.
Some of the many incidents that led to the rules of traveling with emotional support animals to change are, a man who was traveling from Atlanta to San Diego filed a lawsuit alleging he was attacked by an emotional support dog and mauled his face on a flight the incident happened in 2017.
Another incident happened last summer when an American Airlines flight attendant received five stitches after she was bitten by an emotional support dog on a flight out. According to the Department of Transportation, they said they have received reports of biting incidents that led to children being scared and a lot of lawsuits.
In December 2020, the Department of Transportation announced it will revise rules around flying with emotional support animals and will no longer consider them to be service animals.
There is a difference between service animals and emotional support animals. On the revised Air Carrier Access Act rules (the new rule) the U.S Department of Transportation defines a service animal as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animals individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.”
With that being said the Department of Transportation no longer considers an emotional support animal to be a service animal, this allows the airlines to ban the animals if they don’t fit established rules.
After the Department of Transportation announcement, Alaskan Airlines was the first one to ban the emotional support animals in their flight, and the most recent one was SouthWest airlines. Here is the list of airlines that already ban emotional support animals in their flights
- Alaskan Airlines- As of January 11, 2021, Alaskan Airlines only accepts service dogs that are trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability. Emotional support animals will no longer be accepted. The airline will continue to accept emotional support animals for reservations booked before January 11, 2021, for flights that are on or before February 28, 2021. No emotional support animals will be transported after February 28, 2021.
- American Airlines- Starting February 1st, 2021 the airline will only allow trained service animals to fly in the cabin and customers will need to complete and submit the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Service Animal Air Transportation form before their trip. If a customer is traveling with an animal that doesn’t qualify as a trained service animal, it may be transported as a pet.
- Delta Airlines– As of January 11th, Delta airlines no longer recognize emotional support animals as service animals. The airline will honor reservations submitted and confirmed by Delta before January 11, 2021, but will not accept new emotional support animal reservations for upcoming travel. With that note starting January 11, 2021, Delta will only accept trained service animals that are dogs. Customers traveling with a trained service dog(s), regardless of breed, must complete the required DOT forms
- Frontier- As of February 1st, 2021, Frontier will no longer accept emotional support animals onboard. The animal may be eligible to travel in accordance with their Pet Policy for a fee.
- Jet Blue- The Airline will only allow service animals with restrictions, the customer must notify them that they are traveling with a service animal and receive the U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation Form no later than 48 hours prior to departure. The airline only accepts fully-trained service animals not the ones in training.
- Southwest Airline – The airlines allows trained service and emotional support animals that comply with certain safety and documentation requirements. Be aware that trained service and emotional support animals may be subject to additional governmental laws and regulations at the destination, including but not limited to, health certificates, permits, and vaccinations required by the country, state, or territory from and/or to which the animal is being transported.
- Spirit Airlines- As of January 11th, 2021 the emotional support animals can travel onboard as pets if they meet airline pet requirements. Those customers who have a return flight on or after January 11, 2021, will be allowed to travel back with their animal per the previous policy.
You can visit the airline websites and find out more information
3. Other Revised Airline Policies from the Department of Transportation.
These are revised airline policies done by the Department of Transportation-Aviation Consumer Protection after several incidents that happened to consumers.
Most of these policies are really beneficial for consumer perspectives. One of the revised policies is Involuntarily Giving Up Your Seat (Bumping) which they are working on increasing the compensation known as Denied Boarding Compensation (DBC). A ticketed passenger who boards an airplane cannot be involuntarily bumped from an overbooked flight.
This rule applies to flights originating in the United States. For the passengers who involuntarily bumped from a flight, the maximum required compensation that they will be paid is 200% of the one-way fare but no more than $ 675 for arrival delays of up to two hours.
For over 2 hours arrival delay the compensation will be 400% of one-way fare but no more than $1,350. For international flights, the compensation will be 200% no more than $675 of one-way fare for arrival delay of 1-4 hours. For over 4 hours of arrival delay, the compensation will be 400% and no more than $1350.
There is no compensation for both domestic and international flights for a 0-1hour arrival delay. The airline must offer passengers compensation at the airport on the same day.
If they provide substitute transportation that leaves the airport before they compensate the passenger, the airline must pay the passenger within 24 hours of the bumping incident.
For more about Aviation consumer protection changes and policies you can check here