All three of the Big 3 U.S. airlines will stop taking bookings for emotional support animals (ESAs) on Jan. 11.

The moves follow the DOT's issuance last month of a final rule eliminating the requirement that airlines accept ESAs free of charge. Beginning next month, carriers will only be required to accept service dogs trained to help people with specific physical or emotional disabilities.

Announcements this week by American, Delta and United came after a similar announcement last week by Alaska Air.

American will honor existing bookings involving ESAs through Feb. 1. United will honor such bookings through Feb. 28. Delta said it will honor all ESA bookings confirmed prior to Jan. 11.

Going forward, passengers at the three airlines will have to pay carry-on or cargo stowage for all pets except qualified service dogs.

The DOT's decision to eliminate ESAs as a regulatory classification came after many flyers began abusing the system as a way to get around airline pet fees. Under the regulation expiring this week, airlines have been required to allow flyers to bring dogs and cats onto the plane as long as they provide a note from a mental health professional attesting that they have an emotional disorder and that they would be helped by an ESA.


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