Delta, United y American Airlines acaban de hacer un gran cambio, y a sus asistentes de vuelo les encantará

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Este es un artículo sobre los buenos tiempos en American Airlines, Delta Air Lines y United Airlines.

Por los buenos viejos tiempos, me refiero a hace unos años, antes de que los asistentes de vuelo de American, Delta y United tuvieran que preocuparse por el Covid-19, los pasajeros políticos enojados e incluso los despidos y los días de vacaciones.

Uno de los grandes desafíos en ese entonces era el apoyo emocional de los animales. Esto creó problemas que se salieron de control, ya que casi todos los involucrados en las aerolíneas estuvieron de acuerdo: gerencia, sindicatos, empleados.

Pero ahora American, Delta y United han escrito el capítulo final de esta inquietante saga.

Deberíamos recapitular rápidamente. En 2017 y 2018, los pasajeros llevaron todo tipo de los llamados «animales de apoyo emocional» a bordo de los aviones.

Un grupo de la industria que representa a American, Delta, United y otras aerolíneas ha compilado un documento que enumera algunos de los ejemplos más atroces: «Pavos reconfortantes, zarigüeyas deslizantes conocidas como planeadores del azúcar, serpientes, arañas y más».

Diablos, en United Airlines, un pasajero una vez intentó subir a dos animales a bordo y afirmó que uno era el animal de apoyo emocional que el otro animal necesitaba para el apoyo emocional.

¿Por qué las aerolíneas permitieron esto? Porque tenían que hacerlo. Las regulaciones federales en ese momento solicitaban a las aerolíneas que permitieran volar a los animales de servicio, pero no definieron qué era un animal de servicio.

Por supuesto, algunas personas utilizan con razón animales de servicio reales. Es bueno. Pero otros aprovecharon la posibilidad de llevar animales a los aviones por comodidad o para evitar pagar tarifas de transporte de mascotas.

Y eso llevó a un «aumento» en los incidentes de «ladridos, mordiscos, mordiscos, gruñidos y peleas» a bordo, sin mencionar a los animales que hacen sus necesidades en las cabinas de pasajeros abarrotadas, según el informe de las aerolíneas.

Ha habido muchos incidentes, pero uno que se quedó en mi mente fue un incidente de 2017 en el que un pasajero de Delta supuestamente fue atacado por un perro para ayudar emocionalmente a otro pasajero que requirió 28 puntos de sutura. (El pasajero demandó a Delta).

Bueno, tomó años, pero después de todo, el gobierno de Estados Unidos reescribió sus reglas el mes pasado. Entre los grandes cambios:

  • Los animales de servicio ahora se limitan a perros que han sido «entrenados individualmente para realizar trabajos o tareas en beneficio de una persona calificada con una discapacidad».
  • A los pasajeros que deseen que los acompañen animales de servicio se les puede pedir que completen un formulario gubernamental que confirme el formulario de «Salud, comportamiento y entrenamiento» del animal.
  • Y el gran problema: las aerolíneas ya no tienen que permitir que los «animales de apoyo emocional» viajen como animales de servicio, sino que pueden clasificarlos como mascotas.

Ahora, durante la última semana más o menos, American, United y Delta han utilizado su nueva discreción, restringiendo a los animales para siempre con apoyo emocional y ofreciendo a sus pasajeros, y a sus otros pasajeros, al menos algún consuelo al respecto.

En su mayor parte, los llamados animales de apoyo emocional ahora se clasifican como mascotas. Las nuevas reglas comienzan con American, Delta y United, así como con las aerolíneas más pequeñas JetBlue y Alaska Airlines. También hay un pequeño período de gracia para los pasajeros que ya hayan reservado y quieran volar más tarde.

También me comuniqué con Southwest Airlines, donde un portavoz dijo que las reglas no han cambiado y que la aerolínea «anunciará cambios en nuestras políticas más adelante en 2021».

Mira, es un momento difícil para estar en la industria de la aviación. Estoy seguro de que se unirán a mí y desearán lo mejor a los empleados y a las empresas. Podría resolver una crisis de hace tres crisis, pero aún les hará la vida un poco más fácil.

Si tiene un negocio de cualquier tipo, vale la pena aprender la lección: no se rinda, resuelva los problemas donde pueda y deje que sus empleados vean que está en su esquina con la mayor frecuencia posible.

Las opiniones expresadas por los columnistas de Inc.com aquí son las suyas, no las de Inc.com.

An industry group representing American, Delta, United and other airlines put together a document listing some of the more egregious examples: "comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders, and more."

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Heck, at United Airlines, a passenger once tried to bring two animals aboard, claiming that one was the emotional support animal required by the other emotional support animal.

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Why did the airlines allow this? Because they had to. Federal rules at the time required airlines to permit service animals to fly, but didn't actually define what a service animal was.

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Of course, some people legitimately use real service animals. That's fine. But others were taking advantage and bringing animals on planes out of convenience, or to avoid paying pet transportation fees.

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And that led to a "surge" in incidents of "barking, biting, nipping, growling, and fighting" on board--to say nothing of animals relieving themselves in crowded passenger cabins, according to the airlines' report.

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There were many incidents, but one that stuck with me was a 2017 incident in which a Delta passenger was allegedly attacked by another passenger's emotional support dog, requiring 28 stitches. (The passenger sued Delta.)

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Well, it took years -- but finally, last month, the U.S. Government rewrote its rules. Among the big changes:

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  • Service animals are now limited to dogs "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability."
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  • Passengers who want service animals to accompany them can be required to fill out a government form confirming the animal's "health, behavior and training form."
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  • And the big one: Airlines no longer have to allow "emotional support animals" to travel as service animals, and can instead classify them as pets.

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Now, over the past week or so, American, United, and Delta took advantage of their newfound discretion, finally putting heavy restrictions on emotional support animals and at least offering a small bit of solace to their passengers -- and their other passengers, for that matter.

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For the most part, so-called emotional support animals will now be classified as pets. The new rules start at American, Delta, and United, along with smaller airlines JetBlue and Alaska Airlines. There's also a small grace period for passengers who already have bookings and planned to fly later.

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I also reached out to Southwest Airlines, where a spokesperson said its rules haven't changed yet, and that the airline "will announce any changes to our policies later in 2021."

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Look, it's a tough time to be in the airline industry. I'm sure you join me in wishing employees and the companies themselves well. Maybe it's solving a crisis from three crises ago, but it will make their lives a bit easier, nonetheless.

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If you're running a business of any kind, I think it's worth taking the lesson: Don't give up, solve problems where you can, and let your employees see that you're in their corner as often as humanly possible.  

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