Delta Airlines this week announced further restrictions on customers wishing to fly with a service dog or emotional support animal on board.
Earlier this year, Delta announced several changes to their service and support animal policies which limited passengers to no more than one emotional support or service dog and initiated a ban on any “pit bull type” dogs either as emotional support animals or as legitimate service dogs flying with a disabled handler.
This week, the airline further tightened up the rules regarding service dogs and emotional support animals. Under the latest guidelines, emotional support animals under 4 months of age are no longer allowed on any flight due to rabies vaccination requirements. Additionally, emotional support animals are no longer allowed to be booked on flights longer than eight hours.
Although the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits breed discrimination of service dogs, and has no requirements regarding the age of the animal, commercial airlines are not required to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Instead, they follow guidelines set forth by the Air Carrier Access Act, a Federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities in air travel.
Under the Air Carrier Access Act, service dogs may be excluded from travel, but those exclusions have traditionally been determined on a case by case matter. More specifically, “as a carrier you must determine whether any factors preclude [the service dog] traveling in the cabin as a service animal (e.g., whether the animal is too large or heavy to be accommodated in the cabin, whether the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others, whether it would cause a significant disruption of cabin service, whether it would be prohibited from entering a foreign country that is the flight’s destination). If no such factors preclude the animal from traveling in the cabin, you must permit it to do so.”
If you hope to travel with a service dog, emotional support animal, or a dog that’s under 4-months of age, check with your airline carrier for restrictions and policies, including which documentation or fees may be required.