Delta Air Lines Passenger Demands Seat for Her Pitbull And Vapes On Packed Flight

When Juanie boarded her Delta Air Lines flight, she found that she was seated next to a woman who had a pitbull sitting in her seat. The woman asked Juanie to give up the seat for her pitbull – and, Juanie says, the dog owner became aggressive when she declined.

It was a large dog. The owner says 50 pounds, too big to fit under the seat. And during the four hour flight as the woman got in and out of her row by standing up on her seat and the aisle seat, so that her dog could walk on the ground, things began to get tense. And the dog got restless.

Passengers got dog hair all over them, and the dog stepped on Juanie’s purse, and the purse of the woman in the aisle – who asked the dog if it wanted to be punished​?

The dog owner wasn’t even calmed by her emotional support pit bull though, she also went ahead and vaped on board in violation of federal law.

Delta Air Lines used to ban pit bulls, but while the Department of Transportation started allowing airlines to crack down on emotional support animals on board they took the view that these animals couldn’t be banned on the basis of breed. Delta had a pit bull attack a passenger on board and cause real harm.

Fortunately all that happened here is that dog hair and foot prints got on other passengers. The dog owner presumably had done all of the paperwork to claim emotional support animal status for her pet. However she also made life uncomfortable for her seatmates – and should have at least purchased a second seat.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Isn’t this some sort of safety issue? I mean, the dog was clearly impeding the potential safe evacuation of the aircraft in the event of an emergency.

  2. There was supposed to be a crack-down on dogs on planes a few years ago. Judging by what I see on planes and in airports this hasn’t changed anything. A lot of dogs are just “dogs” without the “emotional support” vests. What exactly is going on here?

  3. Can Delta/FAA fine or ban this passenger on the sole basis of vaping? They can clearly track her down and have video evidence.

  4. I have seen an uptick of leashed dogs on planes this year. It seems like more and more people are just getting the “service animal” designation for dogs. I believe dogs can be certified as service animals to treat relatively common ailments like anxiety, depression, etc.

  5. I would have liked it if you had followed up on the vaping claim. If the person had been vaping what did Delta do?

  6. This is a problem with all airlines. I fully understand and am in favor of a support animal, but I can’t be next to one. I have an allergy, and for that reason can’t be next to any support animal. All the forms may be filled out, but none of the airlines inquire about animal allergies. They do inquire about food allergies, but no other allergies. The general idea is to be accommodating to all passengers. Obviously that is not always going to be possible.

  7. It never ceases to amaze me that people just sit there and tolerate others poor behavior because they’re seemingly too afraid to say or do anything. I would definitely cause the flight to land due to my reaction toward anyone who thinks they’re going to violate me like that while I just sit there and do nothing other than video or text the event. People need to do whatever it takes to stand up for themselves when objectively reasonable to do so.

  8. @ sam — What exactly did she say that was racist? She’s unhappy about the ridiculous dog, which is clearly in violation of Delta/FAA policies, plus the vaping customer, which is also clearly in violation of Delta/FAA policies. I suspect 99.99% of people would be upset by this situation, so I don’t see what race has to do with it.

  9. @Gene She specifically pointed out that the girl was white, which has nothing to do with the story whatsoever.

  10. Emotional Support “Pit Bull” that’s preposterous that the most dangerous type of dog is used as “Emotional Support.” I would refuse to sit next to, or even close to such an aggressive animal. There should be limits on size and breed of dog, would I be able to bring m emotional support Great Dane or St Bernard with me on a crowded aircraft?

    Personally, and I don’t believe I’m being bigoted, I think that the whole emotional support thing has got out of hand, perhaps such owners should take their own car on any trips.

  11. Delta doesn’t allow emotional support animals and I would think a 50 lb dog would be to large to fit in underseat carrier. Something is missing in this story

  12. Where did the dog owner want the woman to sit? If there was another open seat i would have just moved and let the poor dog have some room.

  13. Doesn’t look like a pitbull. Perhaps its some type of bulldog.

    Other than that, I think the complaint is valid so don’t mean to take away from the validity of the complaint.

  14. Too many people feel that laws don’t apply to them. There’s a place for people like that to go to. It’s called jail.

  15. Delta personnel should seen the potential for issues with this and been observing for that such as a knowing if other seats were available in the event a passenger objected. Some people of fears of different animals, may have been bitten in the past or have allergies. I just took a flight from Phoenix to Detroit. It was announce that a passenger has peanut allergies so it was requested that no body on the full plane eat nuts. Nobody made sound of objection. I’ve traveled with cats and they are always in their carriers. I’ve seen many small dogs in carriers. If a passenger wants their animal to occupy a seat, pay for it. The vaping may be part of her emotional support needs as well as addiction to nicotine, which most people can manage during flights. Someone with additioanal emotional/mental health needs may not have those regulatory skills but if they cannot comply with the rules, then there is a question if they should be flying. While the passenger with the animal bears some responsibilty, there is nothing said about Delta’s responsibilities. Seems they should have some. I do fault the passenger who did not want dog hair on them or their seat. Calling them names is infantile.

  16. My wife has a guide dog that weighs 60lbs and fits just fine under the seat in front. It’s people abusing the system like the woman with the pit bull that make it hard for everyone else.

  17. @MB – Delta has no choice under law but to allow emotional support animals, there is a process though for advance registration

  18. Why is there a presumption that everyone likes dogs? There are people that are allergic to dog hair and are scared of dogs. The pitbull breed has a nasty rap and many have developed a phobia for this particular breed. Airlines should not allow large dogs onboard period except for guide dogs. Many passengers skirt around the cargo fee by claiming their dogs are “emotional support” which is supported with “false certificates” which are purchased. It is just a matter of time before someone will be awarded a multi-million verdict against an airline for a passenger getting mauled by one of these dogs before any changes will occur.

  19. Emotional support animal my
    Butt! This is Deltas fault. There is NO WAY I could sit next to a pit bull for four plus hours

  20. @Hal – Actually the Megabus is better than flying nowadays. My daughter took one from MIA to TPA in lieu of flying AA, and she noted that Megabus only allows trained Service animals, not Emotional Support animals. she also said she was surprised that almost all the pax on the Megabus were business folks and students. and their behavior was much better than what she generally encounters on commercial aircraft.

  21. Breeds aside, not really a thing if you have a properly or professionally trained dog, they should set specific rules based on the size/weight of the animal. If too big to fit under the seat at the owners legs, the passenger should be required to purchase the adjacent seat. As a human being, if I am too big or heavy to stay within the confines of the seat I purchased, I have to pay for another one. This is just basic sense.

  22. @Sharon every news story specifies race of the perp, are they also racist?
    If all you take from this story the fact that the dog owner was white, you clearly don’t care about the actual event. Like a typical racist, all you only care about is the race of the people involved.
    My $0.02

  23. Bring on the chickens and goats and livestock and we can be any other 3rd world country. Where is it that in society it’s okay for your personal needs to infringe on common good and safety of everyone else? Where do we draw the line that it’s okay to put your needs ahead of the realization that you are trapped in a metal tube at 25,000 feet in the air with limited personal space with no control over your surroundings, people you are seated next to or your fate, so if you can’t handle that, should you get on a plane? If you need a support animal to do so, then you are now changing the dynamic and environment for everyone else.

  24. @David – right. Read what I wrote about it. People call emotional support animals service animals and self-certify every day and Delta accepts it. Indeed the form’s language is clearly crafted to permit it.

  25. @Max Pallas, you have clearly never met a pit in your life, for they are among, if not the #1, sweetest dogs on the planet, provided they aren’t raised by monsters. “such an aggressive animal” So you know this dog personally? Because they certainly look to be exactly like every one I’ve ever met (maybe 15-20), a big ol’ Teddy bear. I know every dog that has ever bit me weighed between about 5-25 pounds. And yes, I understand that a bite from a Pitty has the chance to be much more severe (puncture wound infections from little teeth like a chihuahuas can get really nasty), but again, as long as they were raised in an even moderately healthy home, and you don’t try and do something dumb like taking food out of their mouths, they pose absolutely no threat.

  26. Service animals are dogs or miniature horses that have been individually TRAINED to perform a SPECIFIC SERVICE for a person with a disability.

    Emotional support animals have no business on public transportation. They have not been trained to do anything; you just want Fluffy nearby so you can pet it and feel better.

  27. Shoot those dogs dead. Every last one of them. I absolutely hate them and they are hardheaded. Once they get something in their little tiny brains, there is no stopping them and they know how powerful they are.
    Delta, you guys are idiots!
    Judges, you are even more stupid. That breed should never exist, just like you should never be sitting on a judge’s bench. If you’re that stupid. God do I hate stupid people and they are everywhere today. You cannot reason with anybody because everybody thinks that they know the answer. Nobody has the solution

  28. People that want special service like this should be required to purchase tickets so that ample space is provided and safety can be maintained. If I have to worry about my items blocking the floor shouldn’t the animal be required to be in a seat?

  29. DL and impinged passengers cannot do anything about this without getting doxed and humiliated by TV/SocialMedia celebrities, as well as lengthy expensive lawsuits. Welcome to domestiic flying 2023; the friendly skies have become dystopian.

    Is there an app that would tell me which flghts are mostly likely to attract passengers flaunting their rights to boorish lowclass behavior? I don’t need an app which tells me which flights are likely to be late or cancelled. I just want a civilized flight that helps me retain some semblance of sanity.

  30. Delta’s FAs are at fault here. If they couldn’t straighten things out, they should have appealed to the Captain. What that individual says, goes. One hopes the person responsible for the flight has better sense and better people skills than the FAs.
    As a last resort, an imaginative FA might have offered the inconvenienced passenger a jump seat, which is probably against all rules, but wouldn’t have been needed unless there were an emergency or until the flight was preparing to land.
    Pity the inconvenienced passenger didn’t have a bottle of spray cologne, which could have been put to imaginative use.

  31. Just minor correction, the dog that bit the passenger on the Delta San Diego flight was a Chocolate Lab pointer mix not a pit bull.

  32. In another life I worked for DL as a gate agent, for quite a few years before leaving in mid 90’s. Back then the only pets allowed on board were seeing eye dogs. This “emotional support” pet stuff didn’t exist. Pets went in a crate in the cargo bins, where they belong.

  33. I find it FUNNY that someone will “spend” $2000 on a stupid Louis Vuitton (the worlds weathiest man) —- purse.
    Why not simply fly First instead of a middle Coach Seat?

  34. “Delta doesn’t allow” translates to “Delta empowers gate agents to deny at their discretion.” All it takes is one airhead “dog person” on staff to decide that the infant-eating machine is “cute” and let it on.

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