The United States Department of Agriculture has changed the definition of a service dog. Emotional support animals are no longer protected.
UPDATE: December, 2020 - The Department of Transportation has issued its final ruling regarding an amendment to the Airline Carrier Access Act which will be affective on January 4, 2021. There are many provisions included in this amendment; however, the main one is the change in the definition of a service animal. The amendment defines a service animal as a dog, regardless of breed, that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a qualified person with a disability. This amendment actually allows the airlines to adhere to this definition or to continue to accept emotional support animals. Defines a service animal as a dog, regardless of breed, that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a qualified person with a disability.
UPDATE January, 2020: The Department of Transportation has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and is collecting comments regarding changes to the Airline Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The changes proposed in this amendment is aligning the definition of a service animal to that of the Department of Justice's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA defines a service animal as a dog that is "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Should this amendment pass, all other animals will not be offered protection under the ACAA.
Service dogs will need to submit documentation developed by the DOT in advance documenting their training and socialization. All dogs will need to be identified, leashed and tethered. Affects on cabin operations for larger service dogs will be identified as well as liability for any damage to the aircraft they may cause.
The comment period will be for 60 days.
Since early 2018, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has been reviewing the Airline Carrier Access Act and its implementing regulation, 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382) after much pressure from the airlines regarding fraudulent mis-use of this legislation by owners of so-called emotional support animals. After collecting over 9,400 comments, the DOT has rejected any effort to ban a specific breed from being defined as a service or emotional support animal. Also, the duration of the flight is not grounds to support rejecting service or emotional support animals.
UPDATE The definition of a service animal has been changed. Emotional support animals are no longer supported by the Airline Carrier Access Act. Almost all commercial airlines have discontinued permitting them to fly in the cabin unless they fly under their pet policies for in-cabin travel.
The DOT has supported the airlines' rights to restrict animals less than 4 months old from flying as a service or emotional support animal. It will also support airline restrictions on animal species other than cats, dogs and miniature horses to fly as service or emotional support animals.
Most importantly, the DOT will allow the airlines to request documentation regarding the need for and the training of emotional support animals prior to departure of the flight. Airline procedures regarding confirmation of this documentation will remain in effect.
More information about airline pet policies for service and emotional support animals can be found here: https://www.pettravel.com/blog/index.php/emotional-support-service-animals-airline-policies-and-how-they-are-changing/