No ESAs on flights? Here’s why this rule is bad for business
The debate about whether emotional support animals should be allowed on flights rages on in the UK. And yet, there has been little to no change in policy to show for all the effort. While ESAs barred from boarding flights to, from, and within the UK may not seem like a huge deal to your company, the ban could potentially have detrimental effects on business as usual. Here’s how.
Hinders international travel
The whole function of an ESA is to offer support to its owner during stressful times. Can you think of anything more stress-inducing than an international business trip?
If someone on your staff has an emotional support pet, they are likely accustomed to their pet accompanying them in various settings. Still, the UK does not have any law on the books granting protection to these animals during air travel. When the decision is up to the airlines, you can rest assured that they will take the road of least resistance and not allow these pets to board.
Even travel to and within the US has become more complex. While The ESA Registration of America offers support for getting an ESA letter, that letter has been rendered useless by a change to the Air Carrier’s Access Act made in December 2020. This change removes ESA’s status as a service animal in the eyes of airlines. Because of this, even American airlines will not allow ESAs on international flights, which could put a significant dent in your company’s travel plans.
Presents accessibility issues
Have you worked hard to make your company an inclusive, accessible environment for folks of all identities and abilities? If so, the ban on ESAs during air travel goes directly against this pursuit of equity in your workplace.
It is a proven fact that ESAs play a valuable role for people living with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and even conditions like MS. Suppose your company has staff members that use an ESA for therapeutic reasons. In that case, the inability to travel with their pets will make it harder for them to access opportunities for growth within your organization that involves travel. It may potentially limit the diversity exemplified in leadership positions in your company.
Could lead to poor performance
What if a staff member has an emotional support pet but leaves their pet at home while travelling for work? While this may be manageable for some individuals, the outcome could be damaging to your company.
For example, a person who struggles with anxiety does not have their ESA during a big out-of-town conference. This lack of support may make it difficult for them to perform to the best of their ability. At the end of the day, it reflects poorly on your company.
The battle for ESA rights on airline travel is ongoing. It is unlikely there will be any changes if more business leaders and citizens do not make their voices heard on the matter. If you believe your workers should have a right to equitable travel, consider advocating for ESA legal protection in the UK.