Delta Restricts Age & Flight Length For Emotional Support Animals

Filed Under: Delta

In 2018 we’ve seen the major US airlines crack down on emotional support animals. The first airline to do this was Delta, as they announced changes, though the other major US airlines followed as well.

Delta announced a second set of changes to their emotional support animal policy in June, and now the airline is introducing a third set of changes to their policy.

As of December 18, 2018, Delta is banning service and support animals under four months of age regardless of flight length, and they’re also banning emotional support animals altogether on flights of over eight hours in length.

Delta says that the age requirement aligns with the vaccination policy of the CDC, while the eight hour flight limit is consistent with principles outlined in the US DOT Air Carrier Access Act.

Delta’s SVP of Corporate Safety, Security, and Compliance, had the following to say:

“We will continue to review and enhance our policies and procedures as health and safety are core values at Delta. 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.”

This new policy applies for those ticketed on or after December 18, 2018. Those who have already requested an emotional support animal for travel on subsequent dates will be allowed to take it, as long as travel is before February 1, 2019. As of that date, the new eight hour restriction and four month age restriction kicks in no matter what. Delta says they will be contacting those who are booked after February 1 with an emotional support animal that doesn’t meet the new rules.

Delta says that they saw an 84% increase in incidents involving service and support animals in 2016-2017. You can find Delta’s full service and support animal policy here.

(Tip of the hat to Live and Let’s Fly)

  1. Anybody read the Carl Hiaasen book with the guy who gets himself an emotion support dog to get on a plane early & once the plane lands, the guy gets off, leaves the animal behind b/c he only got the animal in order to game the system. Funny book.

  2. Finally, reason and common sense are gaining the upper hand again. There should be a strict size limit as well. Anything that doesn’t fit into a small carry cage should go to the cargo hold. The cabin is for people.

  3. I will sue if I can’t bring my emotional support grizzly bear on board for free
    There is no other way I can make it through the flight without someone to talk too or pet
    Also don’t leave food out around my bear
    Everyone just needs to remain still though so he doesn’t attack or maul
    Just don’t show your scared otherwise it’s your fault if he gets viscous and mauls you
    He’s been well trained & raised

  4. Yeah, not everyone needs to fly. I would love to see someone actually take their dog on a business trip, like into a meeting. Then and only then would I believe this was a real thing.

    It’s just pet owners being oblivious to their surroundings.

  5. The US DOT Air Carrier Access Act states: “For a flight that is scheduled for eight hours or longer, airlines may require documentation stating that your animal will not need to relieve itself, or can do so in a sanitary way.”

    I am not commenting on whether Delta’s new rules are good or bad, however, Delta is opening themselves up to litigation with banning ESAs on flights 8 hours and longer. Such a restriction contradicts the Act. I know the idea of “laws” is difficult to comprehend in our current political climate.

    With so many emotional responses on this blog, some readers may benefit from asking their doctor for their own ESA prescription.

  6. All praise delta these are the good changes. @primaltravel if you really think you know more about the rules then delta’s legal team you’re a idiot. This policy has been thoroughly combed by their legal team and I’m sure they’ve had conversation with DOT directly to make sure of legality.

  7. @ Primal Travel: Your quote is from an DOT FAQ and is not part of any law or regulation. The FAQ appears to be paraphrasing the requirement for ESA sanitation prescribed in 14 CFR § 382.117. The Code of Federal Regulations represent the DOT’s implementation guidelines for Air Carrier Access Act and can be updated at the president’s discretion.

    I’m not sure what the basis would be for any “litigation” for violation. The Air Carrier Access Act (49 USC § 41705) does not permit a private right of action. I know the idea of “laws” is difficult to comprehend in our current political climate.

  8. Flights are tough enough on people without having to deal with emotional support pets. The airlines should also keep track of people who travel overseas (where it is often difficult to bring your pet with you) without their pet and if they then claim they need it for a domestic flight, they should not be allowed to bring their pet on board.

  9. Delta……indeed a good change for starters……tighten the screws until ESA lovers (aka. pet owners) pay mighty $$$$ to bring their crappy fragile emotions onboard….

    Hope other airlines follow this welcoming change into their manifesto as they always do with other Delta innovations.

    Go Delta !!!!!!!!!!

  10. @Bill P hahahaha thank you for saying that better than I could have.

    Besides, Primal Travel’s quoted language just says they can ask for documentation… nothing about mandatory allowances…

  11. most countries aside from the US do not allow emotional support animals

    even in the US, animals cannot arrive via airplane without a lengthy quarantine.

    so… what routes are really affected by this 8hr rule?

  12. Dear Lucky,

    thank you for bringing this great news to the attention of your readers.

    When I am travelling I try to minimize any disturbance and inconvenience for my neighbour(s) – regardless if I am on an overcrowded commuting train or an aircraft. Would be happy if others would follow this rule.

    This as a minor epilogue for my rant respectively venting 🙂

    I will never understand the ruthlesness of travellers who never mind their smell “emissions” as well as the fact that in an age of 90+ % seat load factors there is no opportunity for change seats.

    A pet is one of the smell emittors for anyone who hasn’t a pet at home. The stories are numerous – even a household appliance company chimes in and offers special cleaning tissues for those having allergies or not wanting to smell this.

    That said I think it is *very unfair* to expect from the fellow travellers to endure this for a flight – regardless the class booked. They try to get a nearly free lunch by avoiding the normal charges for animals in hold. Instead paying for the service received they try to annoy the neighbours and cash-in an advantage by often questionale certifications.

    Not speaking about the stress for the pet.

    In view of all the hassle for 100+ neighbours it is fair to reduce this service animal annoyance to the absolute minimum.

    Additionally I have to question if those travellers demanding a pet accompanying really should choose an airline for their journeys.

    There are only very seldom cases where an emotional support animal may be justified – like for the veterans of Army, Navy, Air Force etc..

    Normally it is just to try to trick the system.

    So Delta is completely right especially and I am keeping my finger crossed that they will stick to the policy and enforce it.

    Best regards


  13. This is ageist! I want to bring my 18 year old emotional support walrus on the flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, but now I can’t.

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