Good or bad? Delta Air Lines tightens emotional support animal policy

Is this a good change or a bad one? Delta Air Lines announced they’re tightening their policy on emotional support animals beginning December 18. Those who have already purchased tickets will have their request to bring a support animal honored until February 1.

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Delta Air Lines announced you can’t bring a support animal if your flight is longer than eight hours. Rules for puppies are changing as well. Support animals (even trained service animals) won’t be allowed on any flights if the puppy in under four months old.

Part of the reason for the change is accident liability. Animals have relieved themselves or bitten other animals, including one Delta passenger. Others try to avoid the pet-carriage fees by filling out a form stating they have a support animal.

Delta posted more information in their blog stating

“We will continue to review and enhance our policies and procedures as health and safety are core values at Delta,” said John Laughter, Senior Vice President – Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance. “These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs – such as veterans with disabilities – to travel with trained service and support animals.”

Delta’s updated policy follows an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals 2016-2017, including urination/defecation, biting and even a widely reported attack by a combat veterans 80-pound dog service dog. The updated support and service animal age requirement aligns with the vaccination policy of the CDC, and the eight-hour flight limit for emotional support animals is consistent with the principles outlined in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act.

Delta Senior Vice President John Laughter stated in an interview with NBC News that the changes are being made to “protect the rights of customers with documented needs — such as veterans with disabilities — to travel with trained service and support animals.”

The ban won’t affect animals who travel in enclosed airline-approved carriers.

From what I gather of this policy change, one major concern is the airline doesn’t want a cat or dog in every lap where the owner claims they have an emotional support animal. Like anything else, the policy has been abused with people trying to fly with whatever animal they want to bring along.

Please feel free to leave your opinion on this change in the comment section below.

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3 thoughts on “Good or bad? Delta Air Lines tightens emotional support animal policy”

  1. No 4 month old puppy is a trained service dog. The rules are very clear on what a Service Dog is and what an ESA is. Our Walmart now has signage that no dog(animal) is allowed in a shopping cart.
    Animal Guardians that are offended by these rules are generally the ones breaking them.
    Service Dogs are highly trained specialized animals. ESA are often untrained, not housebroken and poorly socialized often wearing their internet ordered ID and vest declaring them to be Service Dogs while unable to even walk on a leash properly.
    Airlines and other businesses extended the courtesy of allowing ESA to infringe on the rights guaranteed to anyone with a Service Dog. It has been abused to the max and customers, passengers and business owners are getting tired of the growing fallout.
    All mental health forms from the internet where the person has not met in person and has a client/ professional relationship should be round filed. Tags like those issued to people using handicapped parking from your local DMV should be required for all Service Dogs. Having been in stores with a plethora of untrained nasty often unleashed so called service dogs I can say I’m amazed there haven’t been more incidents than reported. An absolute government issued Tag for legit Service dogs ends the debate.

  2. I wonder how many of these “support” animals actually find the experience of flying horribly stressful?

    Properly trained/acclimatised service animals will be able to cope.

    But an emotional support animal is likely to only have the experience of being a home based companion. What special training do they get in reality?

    Should we be treating these animals this way. Flying is very stressful to most, as are any forms of mechanical transport.

    I think it would be kinder not to subject companion animals to the stresses and vulnerabilities of such travel. I think it is a selfish indulgance, unless the animal is especially trained to cope.

    Cargo is horrendous for all animals too.

  3. I’m leaning more with the airlines as too many take advantage of the “service” animal laws. The service animal laws do not support those who say the animal is for emotional support……only service animals. Those animals who can bring you the phone or your meds or assist with blindness. Support animals must have a written statement from a qualified attending doctor stating you genuinely due to mental/emotional state cannot travel without the animal in question. There is a difference between service animal and support animal. Many of the dogs are not service dogs they are support animals,and not well trained. Anyone can get the support animal papers off the internet. For it to be enforced it must have doctor’s note and specifications. Too many have taken advantage and now those who genuinely need it are hurt.Personally, I don’t even like those cafes where you can bring your dog with you. I don’t want a dog pooping next to me while I eat or trying to get too friendly with my legs. Maybe they need to have a section just for those with service animals on the planes. Perhaps those needing support animals could bring a support person instead. Trusted friend or relative.


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