The Rights of Pet Allergy Sufferers when Traveling on Airplanes

Pet AllergiesThis is an interesting article on travelers who are allergic to pets and their rights to comfort when traveling in the cabin of an airplane. Click here to see the article . The author makes a good point about passenger rights when it comes to animals not traveling in a carrier such as service animals or emotional support animals.

The article did not mention the concessions that Air Canada has made for folks that are allergic to pets. This airline address the issue at the time of reservations, not when the aircraft is ready for take off. Air Canada will ban dogs or cats on planes without HEPA filters when a passenger with an allergy to dogs or cats is on board. If the dog is a service animal, priority will be given to the first reservation made. On planes with HEPA filters, a five row buffer zone between a pet and the passenger with allergies will be established in the aircraft.

With the increase of animals traveling in the cabin, those who cannot be exposed to pet allergens should work with the airlines at the time of reservation to ensure they are not seated in close proximity to animals. This is an issue that may surface over time as the airlines try to accommodate those passengers on both sides of the fence.


The Rights of Pet Allergy Sufferers when Traveling on Airplanes — 183 Comments

  1. Dogs are disgusting – they spread dander and disease and ticks and feces. They smell bad on top of it. People shouldn’t be forced to sit by them on planes. Period. If entitled pet owners can’t leave the pets at home, then at the very least we need “dogs” and “no dogs” section much like the “smoking” and “non-smoking” sections of the past.

  2. Jen – you are correct in that ESAs are not protected under ADA legislation; however, the reason why US-based airlines must accept ESAs is because they are subject to the Air Carrier Access Act. This legislation is administered by the Department of Transportation. The primary issue has been that the legislation is not specific in many areas. DOT is due for further clarification soon. You can find it here:

  3. Asthma and allergies are protected under ADA. People with allergies and asthma, including those who have allergies toward dogs and pets have the same protections as a blind person with a service dog. Emotional support animals are not protected under ADA, therefore people with allergies and asthma are being discriminated against when emotional support animals and pets are allowed on planes and people with allergies are kicked off flights for having a condition or ignored. The next time I’m discriminated against for having allergies and asthma, I will sue the airline and the pet owner. I will also see to it that the emotional support animal or pet is rehomed to a responsible owner who respects people with disabilities.

  4. I agree that airlines have gone to the dogs. I am totally allergic to all pets and wear a medical bracelet for my condition. I think there should be one or two flights a day for people to choose to fly without dogs and pets.

  5. I am going to be traveling for my job the next year and am petrified. I love dogs, but am deathly allergic to them. I was eating outside 2 days ago, and just as on planes, people think their dogs belong on patios of food establishments. I went into anaphylactic shock, thankfully one of the cashiers had an epipen. I could not breathe and thought I was going to die. I do not understand how businesses and airlines can be so obtuse to humans allergic to dogs and dander, cats and other animals. It is business malpractice to be this ignorant and not accommodate a paying customer, but put an animal who does not work over us. I am all for a lawsuit, and it should kick the airlines in their backside. As of now, I am looking at incredibly expensive charter flights, and that is a killer financially. These fake service dogs and their needy owners should have to pay for a charter or grow up! And the airlines, no decency to have at least two to three pet free flights a day. They are as stupid as the pet owners.

  6. Caroline – any birds that are brought on an airline in the cabin (if allowed) must be contained in a carrier for the entire trip and stowed under the seat in front of the owner. That said, you can confirm with your airline prior to booking that there are no birds booked on the flight. You can also fly an airline that does not allow birds to fly in the cabin. Not many US-based airlines do. You can find airline pet policies for major airlines here:

  7. I literlly pass out with fear in the proximity of birds. I could not be on a plane with one, I would get hysterical and then pass out in panic. Who gets on the flight and who leaves? What about compensation?

  8. I too have had asthma all my life, and have ended up in the emergency room in the “near death” fast lane following an inadvertent encounter with a kitten. Time and time again I have had to postpone a long-haul flight because someone (who had reserved their flight AFTER me) was traveling with a service animal/emotional support pet. Even with a full panoply of medicines, courtisone, epi-pens etc. I could not risk having a potentially fatal asthma attack mid-Atlantic. Unfortunately, in all cases the animal owner has been given precedence, and I have had to pay for hotels and meals (no help from the airline) waiting for the next flight and hoping there will be no animals on that one. Asthma is an “invisible” disability, I travel with a medical certificate, and I should have as many rights to my booked flight as a pet owner. Airlines MUST have animal-free flight options for allergic passengers!! My suggestion is simply that there be a box to check when reserving a flight – some airlines ask you to communicate peanut allergies so that no peanuts will be served on board – how about communicating allergies to animals? If there are already reservations with animals, then it will be possible to find another fight before ending up at the airport and being bumped at the gate. If there are no reservations with animals at the time I book my flight, then the airline can keep the flight animal-free (as they would keep it peanut-free). Whatever the solution might be, airlines must begin to accommodate medically-documented allergies to animals, and clamp down on false service animals/emotional support pets.

  9. I have had asthma since I was 2 years old. I love animals but I cannot be around them because I can’t breathe this is no joke! I am freaking out that they allow animals on flights. Imagine if you couldn’t breathe not through your nose but having your lungs close up, its scary. You can only take your inhaler so many times in a 6 hour time frame and sometimes that doesn’t work. You can actually die of a asthma attack!!!! What is wrong with these freaking people who play this game of I need my pet on this flight!!! I know people who are playing this game and I want to shout from the mountain tops that they are liars as to them being service animals! I am so scared that I will be on an international flight for hours with no one on my side. Do I need to bring a dr onboard with me for the price of a service animal! Now that would be fair! Get real people!!!!

  10. I too have severe asthma from animals, and it’s ridiculous how all airlines now allow pets to fly (often up to 10/flight) on top of all the assistance/emotional support animals. Flying now is a literal zoo! What ever happened to animals in crates in the luggage compartment? Us asthmatics get no consideration, even though the ADA acknowledges asthma as a disability since it impacts a major life function (breathing). My state senator helped me contact the DOJ and the DOT. The DOT sent me a letter acknowledging peanut and animal allergies as the two greatest concern on commercial aircrafts, yet they state that banning animals constitutes an undue burden and fundamentally alter the nature of the carriers’ service. This likely means that they love the extra money and won’t give that up. I created a facebook group about asthma and animal allergies, so please share it with others with our same concerns. It is called: “Animal Allergies & Asthma in a Pet-friendly ADA World”. There you’ll find many addresses of places you can write. Us asthmatics are being kicked out of public places and replaced by animals…and few people realize that we could die from our lungs reacting and shutting down. Write all of your local AM talk radio stations, TV stations, and newspapers to try to get a dialogue going to educate! Write your state senators and congressmen to try to get representation!

  11. I have severe asthma and allergies and cannot fly because animals are allowed on flights. It saddens me that animals have become more important than a human being. If flights can ban peanuts because of the chance of anaphylaxictic shock why cant they for those of us who could have the anaphylaxic shock from animal dander? We have to screen everything for me to travel. It is getting much more difficult to find hotel and motel rooms that are pet free also. I have not chosen to be so allergic to animals but people do have a choice on taking pets with them on flights.

  12. Let’s get together and start a class action suit. These sites are only good for venting. I want action. I want one pet free/fur free flight per day! I am tired of stressing before a flight, tired of waiting 3 hours for a flight that I hoped would be pet free, when the one I should have taken had 2 dogs on it, tired of limiting my pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because of the ignorance of others, and especially the airlines. They got rid of peanuts!

    Write me=

  13. Dear Ms. Benavidz. I was really saddened to read your comment. Let me assure you that it is not the allergy sufferers who are “dictating” anything regarding travel with pets. The airlines have done nothing to help those sufferers such as myself, who are severely allergic to animals. These days it is no longer an emotional support animal or a pet for a disabled person. Anyone can pay to bring an animal on board.

    Two years ago on a flight home from Aruba, I had to wait 3 hours for the next flight and pray that it was pet free. There were two pets on the flight I should have been on. Nobody, including Jet Blue, were of any assistance. I cannot take a chance and sit in an enclosed space with an animal. Sorry, pills and inhalers are not the answer for me. I have written to Je blue, but they do not offer me anything other than a seat away from the animal. However, Jet Blue also says that they do not always know when an animal is coming on board, because people can buy tickets last minute.

    MY compromise would be to have one flight per day that is pet free. Jet Blue nixed that as well. Why? I have no idea!

    So please, have some compassion for those of us who have no choice, who were born with this allergy, and can do nothing to alleviate our symptoms. I have never been to my sister inlaw’s house for dinner because she has a dog. She understands. I hope you do.

  14. I do not feel that people with severe allergies should have the right to determine whether the plane they are on is pet free or not. Maybe they should be a little pro active and alert the airline reservation before hand, plan ahead,make plans.. Although I sympathize with their condition this country I still not a dictatorship!!

  15. I was on a Jet Blue flight and I am highly allergic to cats and dogs. I had an elderly woman who took her cat out and I wanted to slit her throat and kill the cat. I was told there were not animals near me. I also had a German Sheppard who decided he didn’t want to sit with his owner and sat at my feet. I wanted to slit that mans throat and kill the dog. We never had to deal with all these Emotional animal crap before.

  16. I had to fly back to NYC for a funeral..Got on the plane, with a dog in each of the rows in front of me.. When I asked to be reseated away from the dogs, I was told the plane was full. When I informed the flight attendant of my asthma and severe pet allergies, I was told that I could either shut up, leave the plane, or get arrested. As I had a funeral to go to, I spent most of the flight in the bathroom, drinking a couple of tequila shots I had left in my carry on. When the flight attendant banged on the door asking me why I was taking so long, I just told her that I had a bad reaction to my EpiPen.
    Suddenly, animals have priority over human beings. I cannot imagine a more desperate situation for an asthmatic, to be trapped in a tin can at 35k feet, with dogs loose in the cabin, and no way out until touchdown. Plus a flight staff completely ignorant and oblivious to your situation.
    Because of this, I can no longer fly. I live on the west coast–so I am used to flying back to NYC to see the Yankees/family, etc.
    Now the airlines have literally gone to the dogs..

  17. I am allergic to dog and cat dander. My eyes itch and finally puff up and swell shut. This red puffiness will last half a week. I cannot wear my contacts for three days when this happens. My vision is very poor, and I cannot see out of my glasses as well as I can my contacts. What about the rights of people not to have a dog or cat in the seat next to them on a plane? What right do I have to be seated in a spot that no dog has occupied. The dander and hair remain after Fido deplanes. I have heard of so many stories where the person was put off the plane for complaining while fido got the seat. I also see all manner of sites where you can order a certificate for Fido stating he is a trained emotional support dog.

  18. I think part of the problem in the states is, you have just as many fake service dogs as you have people with fake allergies. I’m a guide dog user, I have a friend who’s a severe asthmatic she also has a guide dog and she is allergic to everything those toxic smelling perfumes, cigarettes, too much time in the sun she gets hives and itchy spots all over her skin. The average guy could get on the plane or go into a store and have a house pet and probably still have some of that hair on his clothing just as somebody described on their suitcase from the drug detection dogs. But nobody says anything to that guy, because there’s no dog physically with him. We walk in with our guide dogs somebody pulls the allergy game, yet there’s nothing happening. They are breathing very free very healthy there is no infection there is nothing going on. So people with real allergies get ridiculed just as much as people with real service dogs get denied and challenged because you have a lot of people pretending to have any disability whether it’s an allergic one or a physical one any kind of disability in the book. Whether it’s to discriminate or whether it’s to get their fluffy pet from point a to point B. Also, technically there is really no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. There’s nothing in the Americans with disabilities act saying that supposedly breeds that are considered hypoallergenic should be used. It’s going to be based on your disability. You can’t expect a 3 pound dog to guide a blind person. Or use them for mobility balance. Apparently that hypoallergenic thing is a myth and technically when it comes to dog skin and the dead cells on the dander and the saliva is the trigger. Essentially somebody could still be allergic to a poodle. Like I said my friend who is a severe asthmatic she’s more allergic to cats than dogs, but it doesn’t matter what kind of dog she still has her allergies.

  19. I am deathly allergic to dander. I wish animal owners were more considerate of people. Realize taking your dog to grocery stores, Target, Walmart and airports etc…Does hurt other humans! People have mild to severe reactions to dander. PLEASE do not say your dog is hypo allergenic . This is not true!! An asthmatic will still react. Airways swell and makes it next to impossible to Breathe. Also, you are making life even more difficult for those with actual disabilities. Real service dogs are being distracted from their duties which can be dangerous for their owners. Keep your dogs at home. Crazy idea I know. But the life of other humans should not be put in peril because other humans want their dogs with them all the time.

  20. Allergy sufferers must have a fur free option. Allergies are a very serious health risk… When some allergies kick-up the effects can last for two to three days (ruining your trip), or can place a person in the hospital. My cat allergies will place me in the hospital.
    I once told an attendant (on a transatlantic flight) that I was sitting next to a cat and that I had serious cat allergies. The attendant ridiculed me, and tried to ignore me.
    Surely people can live without their pets for a two hour flight if the health of human beings is involved. Would they take their pet onboard the plain if they thought that it would make their pet sick? A few years ago I found hotels that were smoke free, I will do the same for planes.

  21. I assess 7 large dogs on an airplane is a security risk not only for allergy sufferers but also in general. What if the flight is turbulent and the dogs go bizurk. I recently flew on an airplane with 7 large animals and even the flight crew said this is insanity.

    Good grief.
    I will be raising my concerns to the FAA.

  22. Absolutely..people come first! It’s ridiculous that I can’t find a pet free’s as bad as cigarette smoke for me.

  23. When airlines recognized the danger peanuts posed to people who are allergic, they stopped serving peanuts. What about respiratory danger to people alllergic to animal dander? Pets seem to have priority.

  24. This problem of people bringing animals on flights violates the rights of people with life-threatening asthma, allergies and respiratory disease and prevents us from flying. Animal dander contaminates the entire plane and is a life-threatening hazard. Simply moving the animal to another part of the plane does not protect people with life-threatening asthma, allergies and respiratory disease from dander exposure. The enclosed space functions as a “death trap” of dander for such people. Even if there are no animals on a given flight, the dander remains on all surfaces until they are deep cleaned, top to bottom. There should be designated dander-free flights. There also should be a strict ban on any animals that are not legitimate, trained service animals. Emotional support pets and others pets are not recognized by the ADA and should not be recognized by DOT, either.

  25. H Wms – your inquiry should be directed to the agency that performs security clearances at the airport. In the US, this is the TSA and you can find more information on the processes they follow with screening here and there is also contact information for them: In the US, you can apply for TSA pre-screening, but this does not apply to your luggage. Perhaps the TSA can offer a solution.

  26. I found dog hair on my clothes and suitcases after an extended trip where I flew to multiple locations. I was extremely sick during the entire trip. Coughing, sneezing, using my emergency inhaler in everyone of the hotel rooms. Keep in mind, I washed my clothes at every stop after disinfecting the washer and dryer because I don’t want to fly with dirty laundry. After I returned home I had a severe allergic reaction and discovered dog hair all over my clothes and suitcases. I “believe” it may have come from the dogs that sniff your luggage for illegal substances.
    Does anyone know a way around this. I am willing to take my luggage to the airport days in advance and sit there while they search each article, rejecting anything they deem questionable. I just can’t go thru another 5 week travel session as sick as I was on the last one. Any help is appreciated.

  27. Rudy – this issue is in a state of flux currently. Because they are protected by the American with Disabilities Act, service animals must be accepted at businesses in the US unless conditions are not appropriate for animals. The Department of Transportation is currently reviewing comments on specifications for emotional support animals and the resulting legislation will likely allow air carriers to be more restrictive in the definition of an emotional support animal and in their policies to accept them. As for hotels, they certainly should be responsible to provide for people with allergies and many will use special vaccuums to clean rooms and also restrict animals to certain rooms. If they cannot provide this assurance, then you may want to consider other hotels.

  28. Hello – I am wondering if there is a group of liked minded people who are seriously allergic to pets airlines and hotels. Some hotels claim to be free of pets but allow service dogs. Recently, I have observed no blind people using services animals – but an increase in pets that declared as emotional comfort animal. These animals have no special training. They can be declared by as an emotional comfort animal by almost any health care professional. Real service animals have to have special training. The airlines and hotels can stop this abuse of people who are with allergies and asthma. Remember, the cigarette ban. My question is do we have a group who can lobby for us. Please answer. Thank you. Rudy

  29. Yes! I love animals, BUT I have a severe asthmatic reaction to them! Not only can I not fly due to animals on board, but I also have a hard time finding hotels that don’t allow animals in rooms. I think that the disabilities act totally ignores those of us that are disabled due to life threatening allergies.

  30. It seems that allergy sufferers should have a fur free flight option. I cant breathe, carry an inhaler for those allergic moments with the prescription attached. Is there the question asked, are you allergic to furry animals?

  31. Fantastic web site. A lot of useful info here. I am sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks for your effort!

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