In my FlyerTalk.com email yesterday, one of the highlighted articles addressed whether passengers had a right to fly with "emotional-support" animals. My first reaction was "what in the world is an 'emotional-support' animal?" I am well aware of legitimate service animals such as dogs that assist the blind. But an "emotional-support" animal sounds like a some made-up term for the crowd that considers a dog their child and can't bear to leave it home. I was not surprised to read in the article that many people are abusing airline policies on service animals so they can travel with Fluffy.
I try to see things as objectively as possible, though I can't fathom why some people treat animals as well or better than people, but to each their own. I love animals, especially dogs, so this is not from the perspective of an animal hater. I see FlyerTalk's question this way – you are free to do as you want, within the rules, until you interfere with others' reasonable right to be left alone Put simply, your rights end when they interfere with the rights of others. Of course, you can't expect to have complete isolation on a commercial airliner even in a fully enclosed suite in Etihad first class, so that is where we have to consider whether any intrusion is reasonable. Granted, there is no hard an fast test to define what is reasonable. Here are my thoughts regarding "emotional-support animals."
I do not have a dog allergy but a friend does. Certain types of dogs make him very congested and could otherwise make for an unpleasant trip if confined in close quarters with certain types of dogs. Given that airplanes are primarily for the transportation of human beings and dogs are not paying a fare as are other passengers, someone with an allergy or something similarly impactful should not have to share tight quarters with a relatively unnecessary animal (I exempt bona fide service animals here). I would note, that I do not include merely “not liking” something here. There are lots of things I do not like but if simple distaste is my only real objection, that alone should not limit the actions of someone else. I am talking about unreasonable interference with someone else's ability to enjoy the product or service they have purchased.
My big thing when traveling is relative quiet and solitude – no excessively loud noises that annoy others, no constant kicking, bumping or touching me, etc. My fiance were on a TGV train in France in August, The family across the aisle had four seats around a table and under the table was a little dog. I thought “Great, we are gonna have to hear that thing yapping for the next six hours and having it running around the aisle.” Nope. The dog was better behaved than many kids with whom I have shared a cabin or car! That dog disappeared under the table, laid down, and I truly forget it was there until the family left the train. I have no issue with a small animal that can travel that well. However, that is not always the case and, unless you have a real service animal, that’s when there is an issue.