Some of the changes have improved our travel experience, while others have been a real inconvenience. Listed are changes you can expect to see on airlines and in airports this year.
Service and Emotional Support Animals
Flying with an animal will be more difficult this year. An increase in emotional support animals on flights is responsible for an influx of complaints from passengers, airline staff, as well as veteran and disability groups. Many of these animals have lashed out at people.
In order to address the matter, the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued clarifications regarding service animals on flights. Individual airlines will be required to review and adjust their policies in accordance with that guidance. A summary of the guidelines is listed below.
- Airlines cannot ban a specific breed or species of service animal however they can deny specific animals they believe could pose a threat.
- Airlines can require animal owners to provide documentation related to the animal’s vaccination, training or behavior to determine whether an animal poses a threat to the health or safety of others.
- Airlines can also require documentation for flights over eight hours related to an animal’s bathroom habits but cannot have outright bans on animals on long flights.
- Airlines can require animals within the cabin to be tethered.
- Airlines cannot require advance notice for those traveling with traditional service animals.
- Airlines can require lobby check-in for emotional support animals.
- Airlines can ask questions to determine a passenger’s need for the animal but must accept a medical for or letter that meets DOT’s criteria as medical documentation.
- Airlines cannot restrict passengers from traveling with more than one service animal and can’t limit the total number of animals on any flight.
- Airlines can deny animals that are too large or heavy to be in the cabin and can prohibit animals younger than four months.
The current rule states airlines are not required to accept emotional support animals unless the passenger provides current documentation for their need.
Families Sitting Together
On some airlines, unless you pay an additional fee for seating assignments, your family is seated throughout the plane. Reader’s Digest reports, European regulators pushed airlines to seat families together and expects to see the United States do the same in 2020.
“The practice of separating families on a flight is ridiculous, no one wants to sit next to a toddler without their parent, says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent homeowners insurance agency.
Beginning October 1, 2020, every air traveler must present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or other acceptable forms of identification, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the United Sates.
Those who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly. This will likely cause an uptick in DMV visitors.
A Rise in Technology
January 1, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) switched from ground-based radar to satellite technology, as part of their, NextGen project. The project is expected to improve communication and navigation across our skies.
Airports and airlines are progressively exploring new technology to make the travel process more efficient. United Airline recently tested a new program using artificial intelligence and algorithms to decide whether to hold a flight for a connecting passenger. Airports are also testing new technology to address the delays and traffic around security.