Over the last year, the topic of “support animals” has been hotly debated. And this summer a number of airlines made changes in their policies. But now, Delta is making yet another change. (I’m wondering, is it possible we will see either extremely tight support animals rules or no animals allowed at all, very soon?)

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Beginning next week, on December 18th, the airline will ban service and emotional support animals under four months of age from all of their flights. They also announced this week that they will prohibit emotional support animals on flights over eight hours long. (If you purchased a ticket from the airline before December 18th and have requested to travel with your emotional support animal, you are on the clear. But beginning February 1st, no emotional support animals will be accepted on flights longer than eight hours and no service or support animals– under four months- will be accepted on flights of any length, regardless of the date you booked your ticket.)

Every year, Delta flies about 250,000 service animals (who fly for free, unlike support animals).

“The changes appear to be partly intended to address animals relieving themselves on airplanes. According to the airline, incidents involving service and support animals — included urination, defecation, and biting — increased 84% from 2016 to 2017.

In its announcement Delta referred to an incident last summer in which a passenger was hospitalized with facial wounds after he was attacked by a 50-pound dog — an incident that was reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The airline says its new policy aligns with the US Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act, which states that ‘airlines may require documentation stating that your animal will not need to relieve itself, or can do so in a sanitary way,’ on flights longer than eight hours.”1

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But why the age restriction? You can thank the CDC for that; they suggest animals should begin receiving their vaccinations no sooner than three months of age and that they should wait until 30 days after vaccination, before traveling. (Why? Maybe because they might be shedding to other animals?)

Delta says the new regulations are aimed at protecting their customers.

“Service and support animals fly free on Delta — unlike regular pets, which cost passengers $125 each way. Delta says the number of service animals on its flights has increased nearly 150% since 2015. Perhaps as a result, in recent years the airline has been becoming stricter in its policies about animals on flights.”2

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Back in March, Delta started asking trying to board with a service animal to show proof that the animal was healthy, vaccinated, and a necessity- as prescribed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional- 48 hours before flying (they also require passengers to sign a release form saying their animal will behave).

SOURCE:

  1. CNN
  2. CNN