GOLD HILL, Ore. -- Roya Zickmund was supposed to leave from here to Las Vegas to spend Christmas with her family. But because of what she describes as a miscommunication from Allegiant Air and its recent change in its emotional support animal policy, she's spending Christmas alone in Gold Hill.
On Sunday, December 23rd, Zickmund said she got through the ticket counter to check her luggage and TSA. When it was time for her to board, that's when an allegiant employee told her she didn't have the proper documentation for her emotional support dog, Etta.
"I was just broken hearted. I knew I wasn't going to spend time with my family," Zickmund said.
Although she had just flown with the airline December 1st, the emotional support animal policy changed on December 10th. The airline now requires specific documentation from the animal’s veterinarian, documentation from the owner’s mental health professional, and an animal behavior and responsibility form signed by the owner. Zickmund said three more people weren’t allowed on the same Vegas flight with their emotional support animals due to the change in policy.
NewsWatch 12 was in constant communication with a spokesperson for the airline who said an email was sent out no later than November 9th alerting them of the change in policy. Zickmund said she never got that email.
"None of us have any record of an email sent from Allegiant. It is three simple little pieces of paper if anybody had bothered to let us know. I'm getting them done the day after Christmas. It can't be that complicated," Zickmund asserted.
NewsWatch 12 spoke with the Allegiant spokesperson again to let the airline know Zickmund didn't have an email of that policy change. The Director of Communications for Allegiant Air released this statement:
“We regret that Ms. Zickmund was unable to travel with us on December 23 because she did not present the veterinary and animal behavior forms required for traveling with an emotional support animal. Allegiant instituted new policies for travel with a service animal or emotional support animal on December 10. In order to ensure continued smooth travel for our passengers as we introduced the new policy, all passengers with a service animal or emotional support animal listed on an upcoming reservation were sent an email notification on November 9. This email included a link to the policies and required forms online. Passengers were also sent a reminder prior to their travel. Our records indicate these notifications were sent to Ms. Zickmund at the email address provided when her reservation was made.
As a courtesy, we were glad to re-accommodate Ms. Zickmund on another upcoming flight without charge. We thank her - and all of our customers - for understanding that the goal of the new policy is to ensure safe travel for all passengers, animals and crew members.”
Other airlines are also changing their policies for emotional support animals. As of December 18th, Delta Air Lines will no longer allow emotional support animals on flights longer than 8 hours. Trained service animals will also no longer be allowed on flights if the dog is under 4 months old. Exceptions will be made until February 1st if the customer bought a ticket before the policy change.
Both Zickmund and Allegiant Air recommend that flyers call customer service or check an airlines website for any potential policy changes.