Upgraded Points, a leading travel company, released details of their latest consumer survey dealing with attitudes and perceptions relating to the presence of service and emotional support animals during travel.
The survey, based on reporting from almost 1,000 respondents, included several hundred persons who use either service dogs or emotional support animals, as well as persons who use neither. The survey sought feedback about attitudes regarding the presence and/or use of animals in various public venues, including while traveling. UpgradedPoints regularly publishes studies specific to the travel industry, as well as offering travel tips, advice, and recent trends.
Although federal law mandates that businesses (including airlines) must accommodate requests from consumers for service animals, there are distinct differences between service animals (usually dogs) and “emotional support” animals, in terms of the training necessary for each, the cost of that training, as well as fees assessed by airlines for booking them on flights.
Animal Presence: Setting and Skepticism as Factors in Consumer Attitudes
One of the key findings of this study is that there are significant differences of opinion on the question of accommodations for service dogs versus emotional support animals: 53% stated that both types of animals should be equally accommodated – but 47% disagreed with that proposal. Also noted was the “skepticism” factor: most survey responders believe that pet owners abuse service animal policies to their own benefit.
A significant factor coming into play was the specifics of the situation/setting in which service animals were being used – 49% stated that their use was not appropriate in restaurants and 35% of the responders did not wish to see them in grocery stores.
With reference specifically to air travel, greater than 10% of the survey responders had either observed an in-flight issue with a pet while flying or were directly involved in a situation themselves.
Surprisingly, most of the survey responders who used service dogs indicated that they chose not to fly with them, and only 1 in 11 of those with emotional support animals chose to fly with them.
In collecting the data, 992 respondents were surveyed. Of the respondents, 282 had a service dog, 133 had an emotional support animal, and 577 had neither. Of the 577 respondents without a service dog or emotional support animal, 400 owned a dog. The respondent pool was 61.3% female, 38.2% male, and less than 1% choosing another option.