Delta Air Lines has become the third major U.S. airline to ban Emotional Support Animals onboard its flights following in the footsteps of Alaska and American Airlines who changed their respective policies in the last couple of weeks. From January 11, Delta will only accept trained service animals after a final rule from U.S. Department of Transportation gave airlines permission to no longer recognise Emotional Support Animals.
Delta had lobbied hard for a change in rules following a near 85 percent increase in animal incidents onboard its aircraft since 2016. David Garrison, Delta’s senior vice president of corporate safety and security said common issues included urination, defecation and biting, arguing the change would “enhance” the travel experience for everyone.
The final DOT rule now says airlines only need to recognise service animals that are specifically trained to assist a person with a disability. A service animal, according to the DOT ruling, can only be a dog regardless of breed.
As a result of the change in service animal definition, Delta said it would now remove its ban on pitbull type dogs so long as they are trained as service animals and mandatory documentation is submitted to the airline ahead of travel.
Delta was previously reprimanded for banning pitbull style dogs but the airline continued to enforce the ban because of concern about their aggressive behavior.
From January 11, Delta will no longer accept new Emotional Support Animal bookings but the airline will honour any bookings made before that date no matter when the customer is due to travel in the future.
Passengers hoping to travel with a trained service animal must submit DOT documentation to Delta within 48 hours of travel. Garrison said Delta wouldn’t hesitate to deny boarding to a service animal if it “poses a threat or demonstrates aggressive or inappropriate behavior in a public setting.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.