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Delta Bans Pit Bulls, Limits Service Animals, American Airlines Enacts New Rules

Emotional support dog delta

Could it be the beginning of the end for fake emotional support pets in planes? Delta, American have had enough.

BOCA RATON, FL ( — Summer fliers be warned: the airlines are finally stopping the absurdity of fake emotional support animals in the cabin. Delta Airlines — which led the way with dramatic new rules and enforcements earlier this year, is now banning all pit bulls and limiting “emotional support animals” to one per customer.
American Airlines is following Delta’s lead and is enacting its own set of rules starting July 1st. Like Delta, American is requiring that all “emotional support” and service animals be documented at least 48 hours prior to flight time, that passengers provide official medical documentation as well as proof that animals are trained to behave in an airplane.
Airline passengers routinely claim their pets are Emotional Support Animals or “ESAs” to avoid paying carry fees to legitimately travel with their beloved dog, cat or hedgehog. They often buy fake “Emotional Support” vests from retailers like Amazon. Unlike true service animals that provide a service to the physically impaired, “ESAs” are generally used by self-absorbed, unscrupulous individuals who have no interest in conducting themselves in civil manner.
Finally, two airlines have had enough.
We’ll start with Delta’s update. The American Airlines policy follows.
Airline also bans pit bull type dogs as service, support animals
Delta, which led the industry in March by updating its service and support animal policy, says it will further enhance its restrictions, effective July 10. The enhancements include introducing a limit of one emotional support animal per customer per flight and no longer accepting pit bull type dogs as service or support animals. These updates, which come as the peak summer travel season is underway, are the direct result of growing safety concerns following recent incidents in which several employees were bitten.
Since Delta’s changes took effect in March, many carriers have followed suit. The new requirements support Delta’s top priority of ensuring safety for its customers and employees, while supporting the rights of customers with legitimate needs, such as disabled veterans, to travel with trained service and support animals.
“The safety and security of Delta people and our customers is always our top priority,” said Gil West, Chief Operating Officer. “We will always review and enhance our policies and procedures to ensure that Delta remains a leader in safety.”
The changes follow an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals since 2016, including urination/defecation, biting and even a widely reported attack by a 70-pound dog. Delta carries approximately 700 service or support animals daily — nearly 250,000 annually. Putting this into perspective, Delta carries more than 180 million passengers annually. Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders and more. Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.

Enhanced requirements: Traveling with emotional support animals

For tickets issued on or after July 1, 2018, emotional / psychiatric support animals must meet a set of enhanced requirements, detailed here.

Flying in the cabinEmotional / psychiatric support and fully-trained service animals can fly in the cabin at no charge if they meet the requirements.
Animals must be able to fit at your feet, under your seat or in your lap (animals to be seated on lap must be smaller than a 2-year old child). For safety reasons, you won’t be able to sit in an exit row when traveling with your service or emotional / psychiatric support animal.
Emotional support and service animals cannot:

  • Protrude into or block aisles
  • Occupy a seat
  • Eat from tray tables

Animal behavior

Emotional support and service animals must be trained to behave properly in public; they must be tethered by leash and / or harness and under your control at all times. Animals won’t be permitted in the cabin if they display any form of disruptive behavior that can’t be successfully corrected or controlled, including but not limited to:

  • Growling
  • Biting or attempting to bite
  • Jumping on or lunging at people

If this behavior is observed at any point during your journey and isn’t corrected or controlled, the animal will be considered a pet and all pet requirements and applicable fees will apply.



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