May 7, 2018

The IBT (Institute of Boggus Talk) has watched with great interest the ongoing debate of what constitutes an emotional support animal on an airplane and why the past five years or so we are seeing so much more of this need on aircraft. Are people, in general, becoming less and less able to handle the complexities of everyday life? Does walking and texting require so much concentration that we are now apt to leave the really hard decisions up to our pets?

It is just this type of tough topic that the human factors scientists here at IBT were employed to answer. Oh yeah, we’ve addressed this before. Many years ago, the IBT floated the idea to airports to install intelligence checkpoints prior to the passenger security screening checkpoints, just to see if the passenger was smart enough to fly. Possibly fearing far fewer passengers on the airside, airports politely said no and, well, look where we are today, people flying with peacocks, dogs biting other people’s faces off, farm poultry, pigs, sheep, and even snakes.

Oh sure it all started innocently enough with the Americans With Disabilities Act allowing “assistance animals” for people that require them. Then, of course, the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 allowed access to animals trained to provide emotional support. I guess that’s where the rub really comes in…” trained to provide emotional support.”

For those of you who have been around long enough to know, the IBT does not ever shirk from a good challenge, and while this one is a doozy, we believe we have created an opportunity for everyone to have an emotional support animal that wants one, and create an opportunity for low cost travel for those, especially students, looking to see the world. Code named SEASA (SAY’-SA), defined as Students as Emotional Support Animals this really can help stop the craziness of those darned animals on planes, and, well, at least lets us deal with the devil we know…humans.

Whoa! What’s that you say? Humans as emotional support animals? No way! Why yes, they are. In fact, scientists describe virtually everything that is alive as animal or plant. While I know a few plant-like personalities, every one of us is an animal. Some more so than others. Let’s break this down.

  • ADA allows for assistance animals (humans) for those that require them…check
  • ACAA allows access to animals (again humans) trained to provide emotional support…check

Let’s look a bit further:

  • Animals (humans) travel for free.
  • Certain small animals (people) may be permitted to sit on you lap, if it can be done so safely.
  • Airlines cannot refuse to allow your animal (person) onboard because it makes other passengers or flight crew uncomfortable.
  • You animal (person) must behave properly.

Dude, this is easy peasy. Rather than carry around a messy animal that you have to fuss with, why not take along a college student wanting to travel. College students usually must live frugally so they are not overly large. They can care for themselves, which includes using the restroom in the right place as opposed to the center of the aisle or on someone else. They can help with luggage. They can tell you that you look great (a great emotional support statement) and that people like you. They can also tell you how intelligent you are, and that you are a wonderful person to be with. This is way more emotional support than you will get from an animal that will only like you when you give them a treat to eat out of your hand and then lick your face. Oh, and another benefit. You don’t have to hold them up and talk baby-talk to them. Of course, you can if you want…” does Donny Wannie want a treat for being such a good boy?”

Oh sure, they have to be able to sit on you lap, but hey, if someone can travel three to four hours at a time with a Labrador Retriever in their lap, a small college student should be no problem. Of course, you will want to choose carefully. And of course, there are issues to be resolved. The whole “#notinmylap” movement, #animalsrpeople2” and “#peopleagainstpeopleflying” campaigns will certainly want to weigh in. I’m sure with some sensitivity training, because this stuff always works, we can get past all of this.

To those who say, “yeah but college students typically don’t fit underneath the seat in front of them,” I’d say you’re right. However, the neat thing is, many college students will fit into the overhead bin and for the most part will not urinate in it causing pain and suffering for those downstream where it leaks out due to the aircraft’s pitch.

The “forever” relationships that this could create are just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine finding that special “someone” sitting in your lap someday, or the joy of learning a new language from your SEASA as you connect and feel the positive energy of just being you.

Really, SEASA is just the next evolution in what we all want. Someone with us that will make us feel good, feel loved, feel beautiful, feel like, well we are someone special. Already the IBT has started the #lovemylapbuddy as the SEASA sensation is set to take off.

See the World with SEASA.

Roddy is the Buildings Service Group Leader for the Aviation Practice at RS&H. A 30-year aviation professional, he is an architect with a Bachelors’ of Design from Texas Tech University. Roddy is the 2017 Board Chair of the Airport Consultants Council (ACC) and sits on the Board of Directors for the International Partnering Institute (IPI) as well as the International Association of Airport Executives (IAAE).

About the Author

Roddy Boggus | Vice President of Aviation

Roddy Boggus, AIA, NCARB, is a senior vice president of aviation at RS&H. A 30-year aviation professional, he excels in both airline- and airport-based practices as well as alternative delivery methods. Roddy is a facilities expert who has helped many large and medium hub airports streamline and provide exceptional service stakeholders through passenger flow, queuing, and operational efficiencies. He is a former Board Chair for the Airport Consultants Council (ACC) and Airports Council International (ACI) and has also served the International Association of Airport Executives (IAAE). He can be reached at [email protected].