11 Questions You Might Have Now That (Mini) Horses Are Allowed on Planes

PHOTO: Abramova Kseniya/Shutterstock

Leaving (with a horse) on a jet plane.

In case you missed it, Alaska Airlines announced last week that passengers could now bring trained miniature horses onto flights. Naturally, we had questions so we went on a search for answers. Here’s what we found:

Why?

To aid flyers with disabilities. Miniature horses have been used more in recent years as guides for people with a disability, most notably those who are blind because horses have superb vision. Mini horses can live up to 30 years and can be a good alternative for those in need of a service animal, but might be allergic to cats or dogs.

What Does “Trained” Mean?

Alaska Airlines defines trained service animals as animals who “receive training to assist a qualified individual with a disability who: is blind or has low vision, is deaf or hard of hearing, has diabetes, seizures, mobility limitations or other needs (e.g. PTSD).” The airline will also allow service animals who are trained to assist individuals psychiatrically.

Where Would It Sit?

Stand, actually. The airline’s Director of Customer Advocacy, Ray Prentice, told The New York Times that he believes the only place for the animals to fly comfortably would be in the cabin’s bulkhead.

How Tall Are These Horses?

A standard miniature horse is typically no taller than 38 inches. The airline did not release any specifics on its ability to accommodate the animal’s dimensions.

Do Any Other Airlines Allow Miniature Horses?

Yes! American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and JetBlue Airways all permit trained mini horses.

Will Other Airlines Follow Suit?

It’s hard to say since airlines have different rules and regulations, but many comply with the Air Carrier Access Act, which specifies airlines may exclude animals that are too cumbersome to fit in the cabin or cause a significant disruption. Airports, on the other hand, are no stranger to using miniature therapy horses to assist airline passengers with anxiety.

What Service Animals Are Currently Allowed on Alaska Airlines Flights?

The key word is in this question is “service.” Per the news release, the airline identifies a service animal as “a dog, cat or miniature horse.”    

mini horse 2
mini horse 2Melory/Shutterstock

Can the Horse Use the Lavatory? If Not, How Will Its…Needs Be Monitored?

The airline has not specified. Generally, miniature horses do their business every three to five hours.  

How Could You Find Out if a Miniature Horse Is on Your Flight?

You can’t. While documentation is required to allow emotional support animals on Alaska Airlines flights, no documentation is required to fly with a service animal. So, you’ll find out during boarding!  

Can a Horse Be Your Emotional Support Animal on Alaska Airlines?

No. In its press release, the airline was very firm in its stance that emotional support animals are still only limited to a cat or dog. The airline also announced that flyers can only bring ONE emotional support animal with them per flight.  

Just Curious: What Are a Few Other “Support” Animals Passengers Tried to Board With?

Earlier this year, a passenger attempted to bring an “emotional support peacock” on her United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Newark Airport; she was not successful in her attempt. In 2016, however, a Delta Air Lines flyer was able to board their flight after successfully providing documentation for an emotional support turkey, who was rolled through the airport in a wheelchair.