I love dogs. Frankly, I love them more than humans.

I am also a big fan of emotional support/service animals. I love that dogs, as well as other animals, can be used to help people out in a variety of ways.

You know there’s going to be a however coming up…wait for it…


Last year the sister in law of one of my friends needed to take a domestic flight- in coach. She was seated in the window seat of a three seat row. Her middle and aisle seatmates each had emotional support dogs. Dogs of the golden retriever size. You know- pretty big.

So she’s in the window seat, two people and and about 120 pounds of dog all rolled up into the row.

Picture this.

Let me just say that the the window seat woman was 100% ok with all of this. She had no issue at all.

Now, as stated, I love dogs, love the whole support thing…

But I don’t know how OK I would have been with this situation.

I have a little claustrophobia thing about airplanes. Without going too much into the story, I once got briefly locked into an airplane bathroom. To say I am now terrified of this happening again is an understatement.

So me, planes, already a little too close too tight thing going on.

What do you think about this situation? Should one passenger be uncomfortable (either emotionally or physically) for the good of the other passenger?

What if someone is scared of dogs? Or is allergic?

What if the window seat was being used by someone not petite, but average or above average sized?

Should someone traveling with a large support dog/animal be required to buy an extra seat?

If you’re in coach, is the answer “Well, you could have bought business or first class?”

Can you see the service animal rule being abused? FYI- I know someone who bought a “service dog” tag for her dog. Trust me- this particular animal, though well mannered and sweet, is not a support animal in any way, shape or form.


73 thoughts on “At Your Service

  1. I think I read recently that at least one airline has put tighter restrictions on their policies regarding ESA, but perhaps that was focused on type of animal, versus size? The abuse of the rule issue isn’t surprising at all, but you raise interesting questions that I have no answers for. Personally I would probably be okay seated next to an animal. As I hate, hate, hate to fly I could use any extra support it wanted to send my way as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For me, there’s a huge difference between a 15 pound dog that can sit in a lap, and a dog so large that on its hind legs is as tall or taller than me. I think it’s worth talking about because it could become an issue very quickly

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Clearly I don’t fly unless absolutely necessary so as it stands now, animals that large can and are permitted in the cabin as ESA? Seems like the airlines would have a policy of their own on size?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I thought that too until I saw the picture that my friends sil sent her. I guess it’s discriminating if you allow one service dog in but not another. The problem is, we allow things without really thinking it through, then all of a sudden there’s an actual issue.


  2. I really think a bigger size dog should have it’s own seat. I hadn’t really considered the issue of someone being allergic. Valid concern. However, it does seem that the use of support animals has become a bit questionable at times.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I don’t believe ESAs should be imposed upon other passengers without their prior agreement. Allergies are real and very serious, and allergies to pet hair are very common. A friend recently travelled to Australia with their child who has a severe peanut allergy. They had to carry a massive drug stash in order to combat anyone opening a bag of peanuts anywhere in the cabin.

    And it’s not just allergies, what about the comfort of other passengers? Having suffered through a trans-Atlantic flight with my 5-year in the days when cabins were split into smoking and non – despite checking-in hours ahead of everyone else, we ended up in the row in front of the smoking section, where a gentleman smoked cigars non-stop throughout the flight. The flight was full and staff refused to ask if anyone was prepared to swap with us. I never flew that airline again, but I also didn’t fly until it became entirely non-smoking – despite liking cigars and being a smoker at the time (who never smoked on planes due to other people’s comfort), but a constant stream of cigar smoke in that enclosed environment was really uncomfortable for me, let alone my 5 year old.

    And that’s before you get onto how many people abuse the system to transport their pet without having to pay for it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think the people probably paid extra to bring the dog on, but not the equivalent of a seat. But now people have pigs and snakes as support animals…I would it want a snake next to me ever. But how do we do it without discriminating against someone with an issue

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There is a payment, but it’s a tiny fraction of the cost of transport.

        As to how we do it without discriminating against someone with an issue, stopping and thinking it through thoroughly rather than jumping on one bandwagon would be a good place to start. I’m not suggesting it’s easy, but we were discriminating against one group before, and now we’re discriminating against another. One way to start would be to remove the abuse of the current system by making certain those claiming their animals are ESA have proper certification from their medical professional.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Here’s the issue. Disney used to allow people with a doctors note re anxiety skip the lines. People started paying to get doctor notes. Then disney discontinued the whole thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I prefer dogs to humans as well. I’d personally rather sit next to a dog than a human on an flight. However, the support dogs should have SEATS. That would make me feel claustrophobic. How in the hell does one go to the bathroom. All the maneuvering would make me edgy.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I had no idea that people could have a dog inside the plane. The seats are tiny ! I love dogs , but I’m claustrophobic, so I don’t think I would have stayed in that seat . As to abusing the use of service animals, yes. People always abuse rules like this .

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Are the big dogs ESA’s? I think the airlines are getting stricter and some not allowing them at all. My daughter’s 16-pound pug is an ESA. The guidelines used to be they had to be under 25 pounds and fit under the seat in a soft crate and there was no charge. She flew two weeks ago and her seat was $100 round trip but the airlines wanted $300 for Waffles. So, she left him behind in boarding.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought there was a size limit too until I saw the picture of the three people two dogs in this row. And I didn’t write about it at first, but the more I thought about it the more I thought that maybe we should be looking at these rules and such

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love dogs, but I have always tried to be mindful that not everyone does and not to impose my animal on other people.
    I think the dog owner needs to purchase an extra seat for them.
    I flew first class for the first time in my life recently—I don’t think the extra space entitles one to have an animal.
    When I flew recently I saw two elderly women who I assumed were flying with their daughters and needed their daughters assistance to fly—-I guess I don’t see how a support animal would differ from a support person–both should have a ticket.
    A snake as a support animal—sorry no way would I sit next to one–that seems ridiculous but maybe I am not open minded enough.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh…I didn’t mean first class passengers should get to bring a dog…I thought that would be the airline response if someone in coach were to complain about being seated next to a support animal. I think this is a thing that is so easy to abuse, and what’s the recourse?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh okay thanks for clarifying. I am sure I will go back to flying coach—but after my recent round trip first class trip it will be hard. The comfort of flying first class made up for the hell that is O’Hare airport in Chicago.
        As someone else mentioned I am also claustrophobic–can’t imagine having a golden retriever in the mix–even if they are lovely dogs.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I would not have enjoyed that flight at all. I get the support dog thing but I don’t think they should have been put so close to each other and yes, if they are big dogs they should have their own seat, just like a child would have to have.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can definitely see both sides to this and it is a difficult situation. I think that airlines need to be adjusting to the fact that people need to fly with animals. For one, allergies are a very real thing for a lot of people, so flights should be marked as pet/service animal friendly, but there absolutely should be flights that are animal free. Yes, this will most likely inconvenience some fliers, but accommodations need to be made on both sides, those with the animals and those that need to be able to fly without them around them.

    As for size, I think that anything larger than an animal that can (and will) sit on your lap for the entirety of the flight or over a certain weight limit, should be required to have their own seat. There are safety issues involved as well as space issues. If people should be strapped in for safety, so should the animals and if there isn’t a seat available to strap them to, you are putting that animal and everyone around them in danger if you can’t. Even animals that are small enough to stay on your lap aren’t that safe and probably should be strapped in as well.

    This is one of those instances where society is attempting to advance for the better in making accommodations for people with different needs, but there are growing pains in the process because changes need to be made and we are still figuring out what those changes need to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Airlines are already reducing flights…I don’t think there’s anyway you could do pet free flights…you’d also have the worry of flight cancellations and putting people on other flights etc. I don’t know what good answer is, but I do think pets over a certain size should have their own seat

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Two large dogs in the same row? That shouldn’t be allowed for safety & evacuation issues. The flight attendants could have shifted them around to avoid the crowding. So much to say about this, but I’ll leave it there. I love animals & I understand there are folks that need ESA, but too many people abuse the system.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I feel that the support animal issue has been so abused and its sad, for there really are people that need them!! I am with you I love animals, especially dogs, but … you are right many people would have anxiety with a big dog sitting next to them on a plane, so… how is that fair? Yes, I think they should have to buy an extra seat for a large animal.
    Hard questions. I just wish there was a way to crack down on the ones who are abusing the ESA rule. My husband saw a guy with a snake wrapped around its neck in the store the other day. That would give me anxiety. It was a big snake.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Totally pick dogs over people. As for on an airplane – nope. I feel people take advantage of the ESA clause. I’ve been on airplanes next to 2 really big guys. They were so big I was pushed in my seat so much I was leaning into the aisle and the flight attendant twice ask me to sit up straight and stop blocking the aisle. I would love too but half my seat is taken up by the big guys (if the armrest between the seats was down they would not fit). I paid for a seat and I am entitled to the enjoyment of that seat (if you can enjoy a seat on a plane). And my enjoyment should not be subjected to the needs of others. Bottom line, If you are bringing an ESA pet they should have their own seat at full cost.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I also love dogs more than people. But my biggest pet peeve is abuse of the ESA allowance. It hurts the people who actually need it and who have an officially certified animal.

    This made me remember my days of working in restaurants in Los Angeles…Many, many untrained dogs joined us in the dining room. But the best was when someone brought their emotional support rabbit. it escaped and hopped all around the tables. (this was at a fairly upscale place where management had trouble telling entitled guests “no”)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. That is way out of control. Sorry, but if you need to travel with a dog that size, drive. I absolutely love dogs, more than people in many cases, but I would not tolerate being crammed in with two people and two large dogs. Give the dogs the seats and put the people in cargo.😆

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I know people who train service dogs, and they do not approve of the “emotional support dogs.” First of all, all dogs are emotional support, one way or another. But mostly, a dog doesn’t need any special training to be called an emotional support dog, so that means that people can (and do) bring rowdy dogs into situations they can’t handle. And the people who train real service dogs are afraid that the behavior of the emotional support dogs will get ALL dogs banned from many public areas. And there are people who truly need their support dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m shocked. I haven’t flown in years but I had no idea they even allowed dogs on planes other than in a special area of cargo? What if it has to go to the bathroom? I don’t even want to think about that….

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m a huge fan of service dogs. Well trained and professional. ESA are in a different category. Whatever did people do before it was fashionable to have an emotional support animal with them everywhere they go? I know people who abuse this designation and I think it’s a terrible precedent to set. I’ve considered getting Cabo a therapy dog certification to go into hospitals and nursing homes. It would never occur to me to bring his 60-pound arse on a plane with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Emotional Support Dogs? For a moment I thought this was a satirical post, then I read on. Surely all dogs are emotional support dogs, and all cats are condescending. That’s why I prefer cats.

    No support dog is less germ-ridden, less salivating, less hairy or less annoying than its non-support counterpart. I reluctantly concede that guide dogs for the blind serve a useful purpose, but I’m not sure how many others should be given a free pass.

    As for “emotional support animals”, give me a break. No wonder I hate modern life. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m terrified of dogs so honestly, I wouldn’t go on a plane with a dog on it. Plus I’m claustrophobic like you too. I don’t think people with service dogs should be required to buy an extra seat or maybe yes but be charged as if they have a child with them (not much).


  20. Tough one. Though I generally enjoy animals, I would not be pleased to be seated next to a dog for an entire flight. No offense to the support animal or the owner. I’ve never even considering this happening. Reflecting….

    Liked by 1 person

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