Delta Tightens Service Animal Rules, Requires Animal Training

Delta Tighten Service Animal Rules-Requires Animal Training

Delta's New Service Animal Rules require Emotional Support Animals to be trained to act appropriately in a public setting, and to take direction upon the owner's command. The new requirement, along with what constitutes inappropriate service or emotional support animal behavior, is in response to an 84% increase since 2016 in reported incidents involving animals, from animals relieving themselves in the cabin, growling and biting, and the attack on a passenger that ended up requiring 28 stitches for the wounds inflicted by the over 50 pound emotional support dog, as I mentioned in Airline Requirements for Flying with Emotional Support Animals.

Here's Delta's new Confirmation of Animal Training Form. While the passenger fills it out and no animal trainer is required to certify it, Delta is the first U.S. airline, to my knowledge, that will now require a passenger bringing an Emotional Support Animal to sign a form stating that the animal has been trained and acknowledging that if the animal behaves inappropriately, the animal will be denied boarding or will be removed from the aircraft.

Delta Support Animal Training Confirmation Form

Delta is also clear in spelling out what is inappropriate animal behavior. I just find it laughable that Delta sttes “We know that service and support animals are highly-trained working animals.” Service animals? Absolutely–very highly trained. Emotional Support Animals? Not so much–no training whatsoever is required to be considered an emotional support animal.

  • Growling
  • Jumping on passengers
  • Relieving themselves in the gate area or cabin
  • Barking excessively, not in response to a handler’s need or distress
  • Eating off seatback tray tables

Here are the new Delta Service and Support Animal Rules that take effect on March 1, 2018:

Traveling with a trained service animal

  • Customers traveling with a trained service animal will be required to submit a signed Veterinary Health Form and/or an immunization record (current within one year of the travel date) for their animal to Delta’s Service Animal Support Desk via Delta.com at least 48 hours in advance of travel.

Traveling with an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal

  • Customers traveling with an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal will be required to submit a signed Veterinary Health Form and/or an immunization record (current within one year of the travel date), 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 Confirmation of Animal Training form to Delta’s Service Animal Support Desk via Delta.com at least 48 hours in advance of travel.

Animals Not Allowed as Service or Support Animals

If you have a trained grey parrot or miniature pig as a service animal, that takes direction, you can still bring them. But there are a number of other types of animals you can't bring, even if you somehow managed to train them:

  • Hedgehogs
  • Ferrets
  • Insects
  • Rodents
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Sugar gliders
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Goats
  • Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game bird, & birds of prey)
  • Animals improperly cleaned and/or with a foul odor
  • Animals with tusks, horns or hooves

The Verdict

Bravo Delta! While we usually fly JetBlue when possible for domestic air travel, Delta's action (although catalyzed by the terrible mauling of a passenger by an untrained support dog) means that we are more likely to choose Delta all things being equal, especially if we're on any short economy class flights where space is more of an issue. In my family, one of us has a severe dog allergy and mild cat allergy, and another has a severe cat allergy, so we want to avoid both dogs and cats as far as possible on all our flights. Delta's more stringent requirements for ESAs will, we hope, reduce the number of animals, especially untrained support animals, traveling on Delta flights.

What are your thoughts on Delta's new Service and Support Animal requirements?

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