For those who have an emotional support dog who travels with them, you may not be able to bring them this holiday season on an airplane. That is, if they are flying Delta.
The Atlanta-based airline announced yesterday that it is banning all emotional-support animals on flights longer than eight hours. The new policy goes into effect on all tickets purchased after Dec. 18.
“These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs — such as veterans with disabilities — to travel with trained service and support animals,” John Laughter, Delta’s senior vice president for corporate safety, security and compliance, said in a statement.
The company decided to make the move after it reports an 84 percent increase in incidents involving service and support dogs, which includes biting and urinating or pooping during the flight.
Delta came under fire in 2017 after a 50-pound emotional support dog, sitting in the middle seat on a flight with his veteran owner, began biting the man seated next to him in the window seat, causing severe injuries that required surgery.
The lawyer for the victim told publication AJC, “It is troubling that an airline would allow a dog of such substantial size to ride in a passenger’s lap without a muzzle,” he says. “Especially considering the dog and its owner were assigned a middle seat despite Delta Air Lines’ policies that call for the re-accommodation of larger animals.”
Also, last month, a sick service dog left behind a poop mess and a customer said he suffered because of it.
Matthew Meehan of Michigan boarded his flight when he noticed feces all over the floor and in his seat. When he brought it to the crew’s attention, he says they refused to bring in a professional cleaning team. Instead, they handed him two paper towels and a small bottle of gin and basically said deal with it.
“Wow delta… it was a full flight…no other seats…you could have slightly delayed the plane and brought on a proper cleaning crew to sanitize the plane… but instead you #forced me and other passengers to sit in FECES. You care more about pushing back from the gate than the safety and health of your passengers,” he wrote on Facebook.
Keep in mind, this policy change is only for emotional support dogs traveling for more than eight hours.
The company also announced it prohibit all service and support animals under four months, regardless of flight length.
Customers who purchase tickets after Dec. 18 must abide by these new policies. They go into effect on Feb. 1.
Earlier this year, the company, in a controversial moved, banned all pit bull-type dogs that act as service or support animals to be allowed on their airplanes.