Delta Air Lines imposes new rules tightening leash on support animals

Marco Green
January 20, 2018

DALLAS (AP) - Delta Air Lines will soon require owners of service and support animals to provide more information before their animal can fly in the passenger cabin, including an assurance that it's trained to behave itself. The announcement follows a significant increase in the number of animal-related safety issues over the past several years.

Delta, the second-biggest USA airline by revenue, said it transports about 700 service and support animals every day, almost 250,000 per year.

"Delta Air Lines is taking steps to further protect its customers, employees and service and support animals by implementing advance documentation requirements for those animals", the news release stated. Passengers with emotional support animals must sign a form that the animal is well behaved and won't act aggressively.

Delta has said that it has seen 84 percent increase in reported animal incidents since 2016, which includes urination and defecation.

"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 USA air travel", said John Laughter, Delta's Senior Vice President - Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance. Both fly for free and are not required to be caged during the flight.

Delta, the second-largest US airline by passenger traffic, will require passengers hoping to fly with animals to provide proof of their pet's training and vaccinations 48 hours before they board.

The airline added that customers have become very liberal with what they consider emotional support animals, and are bringing creatures like comfort turkeys, possums, spiders, and even snakes on board. "We have received extensive customer feedback through calls, emails and social posts - many from among those within the disability community - urging Delta to take action". Passengers with emotional support pets are not now required to promise that their animals will behave. This, Delta said, is all in an effort to prevent aggressive household pets from traveling in the cabin. A passenger was even bitten in the face previous year by a 70-pound emotional support dog on a Delta flight. "Planes have to be evacuated in 90 seconds in an emergency".

However, the regulation also allows airlines to determine what factors would disallow an animal from boarding a flight, including "whether the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others" and "whether it would cause a significant disruption of cabin service". She said passengers abuse the system to bring untrained animals on board, and if it isn't stopped it could lead to a crackdown that will hurt veterans and the disabled "who legitimately need to travel with these animals". "If animals get in the way, people will panic".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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