Delta Air Lines bans emotional support animals

Jan 7, 2021

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Sorry, but your emotional support hamster is no longer cleared to fly on Delta Air Lines.

The carrier on Thursday officially banned travelers from flying with emotional support animals. This comes after a final rule from the Department of Transportation affirming that carriers no longer have to recognize emotional support animals as service animals.

That means emotional support cats, dogs, hamsters, miniature ponies and other animals will no longer be ticketed on any Delta flight. Customers with a ticket for an emotional support animal can still fly with it if confirmed for travel before Jan. 11.

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“Delta’s updated policy follows a nearly 85 percent increase in animal incidents since 2016, including urination, defecation and biting,” said David Garrison, Delta’s senior vice president of corporate safety and security said in a statement.

“Our top priority is the health, safety and comfort of Delta customers and our people. We strongly believe this policy change will enhance the overall travel experience for everyone.”

Delta became the third U.S. carrier to put an end to allowing emotional support animals in the cabin. On Tuesday, Fort Worth-based American Airlines also banned most emotional support animals from the cabin, while Alaska Airlines became the first carrier to adopt the updated DOT guidance in December. United Airlines is the last of the legacy carriers to not adjust their pet policy. TPG has reached out to United, but they said they do not have anything to announce at this time.

Related: No more emotional support animals on planes; DOT closes a major loophole

Emotional support animals became a hot-button issue in recent years. A black market of sorts launched to meet the increase in demand for doctor’s notes, emotional support animal letters and vests available to be purchased online. In recent years, emotional support animals have bitten flight attendants and even children.

Keep in mind that emotional support animals are different from service dogs, which are still allowed on Delta.

However, the airline says that passengers traveling with trained service dogs will be required to fill out DOT documentation confirming the dog meets training and health qualifications. Finally, Delta also said that it would lift its ban on pit bull breeds who meet the requirements to be trained service animals.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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