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Emotional Support Animal & Pet Policies: Delta Airlines

Delta has been the first airliner to impose a detailed policy concerning emotional support animals, and after several incidents concerning the inappropriate behavior of the animals or bad handling by the owners themselves, there was a change to make the policy even stricter and to bar multiple types of both emotional support and service animals.

Some have argued that the new restrictions are an overreach and that some of the animals barred from embarking on flights by Delta do not pose any danger to other passengers. The issue came due to a large number of people trying to get either wild animals or pets on board, that were not trained to handle large groups of people or the sensation of flying. Animals that are not certified cannot be guaranteed to behave correctly in these situations, and some animals cannot handle the difference in pressure both during the initial pressurization of the cabin and during landing.

Due to the thousands of complaints that the Department of Transportation revived in the last few years, it is very likely that advocacy groups will not be able to relax the standards made by airliners without reaching a broader consensus between passengers in need to emotional support animals and service animals, as well as pet owners and other customers of all major American airliners.

New Animal Restrictions & Letter Requirements

Delta Air Lines Emotional Support Animal Policy

The new restrictions imposed by Delta are fairly stricter when it comes to the type of animal able to be brought on board. Regardless of the category, the animal needs to fit in the space in front of the passenger seat and not to overstep the footprint of the chair, meaning that only animals significantly smaller than humans will be able to travel with Delta.

As before, customers will need to have a signed ESA pet letter stating that their animal is a certified emotional support animal, as well a doctor’s note about their requirement for bringing the animal on board and by their side. Animals that meet the criteria for size and type and do not have the certificate would be categorized as pets and will require a payment between $95 and $125 for each flight.

Once you have your personal documentation, you can download the required sheet from Delta depending on whether you are bringing a trained service animal or an emotional support/psychiatric service animal on board.

Be sure to send all of the documents at least 48 hours prior to departure, as to be certain that you will be allowed to board.

Reasons for the Stricter Pet Policy

All of the research data coming from psychologists, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals concerning emotional support animals indicate that this is one of the best treatments available for persons suffering from anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It is an unfortunate fact that some people have tried to exploit the increase in the numbers of ESA and bring their pets on board. While people who are recovering from psychological ailments usually don't have extraordinary demands, pet owners are known to own a wide variety of animals, including those that are wild and dangerous.

Due to incidents, now even dogs that are very rarely aggressive, and never aggressive if they are trained as ESA such as pit-bulls, are banned from flying on planes run by Delta.

As to ensure a comfortable trip for both the other passengers and yourself, you will need to get your animal ESA certified, as well as submit all the proper documentation to your air carrier on time.