Delta announced that starting March 1 they’ll be requiring new advance documentation for passengers bringing ’emotional support animals’ on board their aircraft.
Basically they say the whole fake emotional support thing has gone too far. Delta carries 250,000 service and support animals each year — up 86% since 2016. And we’re not just talking about trained dogs, “[c]ustomers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more.”
Sometimes the dogs on Delta have been large.
And sometimes the dogs on Delta have been vicious.
So they’re taking the position that people bringing on even dangerous animals ruins it for those who have a genuine need. And the rapid growth in passengers bringing animals on board has certainly not tracked a similar growth in passenger disability needs.
Under the Air Carrier Access Act (often mis-reported to be the Americans with Disabilities Act), Delta is required to carry service and support animals in the cabin free of charge. And airlines have run scared of these rules, assenting to nearly any passenger request. The mere repetitive of the word ‘support animal’ has often sufficed.
Here are Delta’s new rules “in addition to the current requirement of a letter prepared and signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional” which go into effect March 1, which sounds like they’ll do little to make a dent.
- Passengers traveling with a service or support animal have to show proof of health or vaccinations 48 hours in advance of travel.
- Passengers traveling with emotional support animals have to sign a document that their animal can behave. Which sounds like Hans Blix telling Kim Jong Un he’s going to get a letter from the UN saying how angry they are.
The approach I’ve suggested for inflight service animals is as follows:
- Require a veterinarian’s note about the fitness of the animal to travel around other people not a self-certification from the passenger
- Require insurance provided by the passenger
- Require that the pet either fit underneath the seat or in a paid-for seat next to the passenger
- Require that in all cases that they remain inside a carrier while inflight although not necessarily under a seat.