Delta Airlines is changing the rules for service animals on its flights. In summary, Delta will be requiring additional documentation for service animals effective March 1, 2018. The new rules require proof of health/vaccinations at least 48 hours in advance of the flight. For support animals, a signed letter from the passenger attesting to the animal’s ability to behave appropriately and a doctor’s letter stating the need for the animal.
Federal law has been interpreted to require airlines to allow support animals. But, federal regulations don’t go much further. Notably, there’s no agreement on the definition as to what constitutes a comfort support animal. Service dogs fly for free and the animals are not required to be crated during the flight. But, Delta Airline’s rules clearly recognize two different categories of animals. First, there are service animals for visually impaired or otherwise disable passengers. The second is emotional support animals.
The first categories of animals receive specific, extensive training; the second category may not. Some people are pretending their pets are support animals to avoid paying a fee and to keep their pet in the main cabin. And, while most people envision a dog when discussing service animals, support animals are not limited to that. Passengers reportedly have tried to bring quite a variety of animals on board, including snakes, turkeys, spiders and possums, claiming such animals were comfort animals. Delta Airline’s new rules aim to curb these abuses.