January 19, 2018
Delta Introducing New Requirements for In-Flight Service Animals

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Airlines are legally required to allow passengers to bring service and support animals on flights. That’s why you occasionally see large dogs, or even a duck in one case, in the cabin. Delta is introducing new rules governing service animals effective March 1, 2018.

The airline says its current loose policy has led to safety risks for passengers due to undocumented and untrained animals. Delta transports about 700 service or support animals every day, 250,000 annually. It says passengers have tried to bring comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders and more as emotional support animals. I’d love to know exactly how many of these animals were brought on board, but the airline doesn’t say.

Daniel the Duck, Image Courtesy of @mark_essig via Twitter

In response to an 84% increase in reported animal incidents since 2016, Delta is imposing stricter requirements as to what is considered a service or support animal. All passengers flying with one of these animals will have to provide a signed Veterinary Health Form and/or an immunization record (current within one year of travel date) 48 before their flight.

Passengers with psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals will have to provide the above documents in addition to an Emotional Support/Psychiatric Service Animal Request form which requires a letter prepared and signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional, and a signed document confirming that their animal can behave.

Image Courtesy of Getty Images

The new requirements are to prevent untrained and aggressive pets from traveling in the cabin without a kennel. Delta’s Senior VP of Corporate Safety said, “The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel.”

What do you think of this policy? I can definitely see Delta’s argument here. It doesn’t want passengers to abuse a program that’s meant for passengers who legitimately need these animals. On the other hand, it sucks that regular passengers can’t bring large pets on board.

My dog weighing in before his flight from Paris-Boston

I have an 11-pound dog which I occasionally bring into the cabin with me. I pay extra for him to fly and he stays in his kennel under the seat like he’s suppose to. But I’d never, ever put a pet into the cargo hold. There’s just too many stories of animals dying to risk it. I wish there was a way to pay and bring larger pets into the cabin with you-of course assuming they had all their vaccines and were trained etc.