Delta is tightening its rules around service and emotional support animals due to “serious safety risks” according to the airline. Beginning on March 1st, passengers flying with a trained service animal will have to submit a veterinary health form and / or immunization records 48 hours before departure.
In addition to the current requirement of a letter signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional, passengers flying with a psychiatric or emotional support animal will need to submit an emotional support / psychiatric service animal request form, along with a confirmation of animal training form 48 hours before departure.
Delta says it has seen an 84 percent increase in reported animal incidents since 2016 — including urination and defecation — with passengers attempting to fly with comfort turkeys, spiders, snakes, and gliding possums. Last year, a passenger was bit in the face by a 70-pound emotional support dog on a Delta flight.
Federal law allows service and support animals to accompany passengers on flights as long as the animal doesn’t obstruct the aisle. But Delta — which transports nearly 250,000 support animals every year — says many animals are being misidentified as service animals and have caused issues on flights.
“The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel,” said John Laughter, Delta’s SVP of corporate safety, security, and compliance.
Delta is creating a Service Animal Support Desk for customers to verify the information it’s asking for, and it will confirm the animal will be able to board the plane prior to arrival at the airport. Delta also noted it won’t “accept exotic or unusual service or support animals,” so if you’re looking to bring a duck on board, you’ll probably be out of luck.