Delta Updates Emotional Support Animal Policy… Again!

Filed Under: Delta

Over the past several months we’ve seen many major US airlines crack down on emotional support animals. The first airline to do this was Delta, as they announced changes in January that kicked in for travel as of March.

Since then, other airlines have followed suit, as United, Alaska, and American, all added restrictions on emotional support animals as well. Airlines have seen a huge spike in the number of passengers traveling with emotional support animals, so they’ve been trying to lower those numbers.

Now that many of the major US airlines have announced some changes, it looks like it’s time for a second round of changes. Delta has announced that they’re adding further restrictions to their emotional support animal policy, effective July 10, 2018. With these added restrictions:

  • Each passenger is limited to one emotional support animal
  • Pit bull type dogs are no longer permitted onboard as emotional support animals

At this point Delta doesn’t allow bull type dogs, hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders, reptiles, amphibians, goats (well, damnit!), non-household birds, animals improperly cleaned and/or with a foul odor, or animals with tusks, horns, or hooves.

Delta says that these updates come as the direct result of growing safety concerns, where several employees were bitten. They also mention that they carry about 700 service or support animals daily, or about 250,000 per year. They carry 180 million passengers annually, meaning that on average about one in about every 720 passengers has one.

You can find Delta’s full service and support animal policy here.

  1. I’m from atlanta, and I hate Delta with a passion. They are snobby people with a beurocreatic structure. Ed Bastian is ruining atlanta’s travel.

  2. Considering switching from AA (EXP) to DL but I travel with my French Bulldog. Oh well. DL just lost my business #sorrynotsorry

  3. If those stats exclude Delta Connnection carriers, then the typical domestic flight would have something like 150-190 passengers on board, so 1 ESA per 720 passengers is quite a lot.

  4. @Advaith if you hate Delta because they’re snobby and bureaucratic you must really REALLY hate UA and AA. What US carrier(s) do you like as Delta has the best customer service out of the big three and in my experience SW in ATL is sub-par?

    On a side note, who needs to bring an animal with “tusks, horns, or hooves” on a commercial flight anyway???

  5. Personally I think most of this emotional support animal stuff a load of crap. Something that maybe at one point had a grain of value that was expanded and exploited by people taking advantage of lax rules.

    The list provided by Delta does bring to mind one question though..what are the rules/responsibility of the airlines if your legitimate service animal that assists you due to a vision impairment or other issue is a great dane or other breed of significant size? Do they need to provide space, i.e. a seat or other accommodation or is that on the passenger? Just curious if anybody is aware. Thoughts?


  6. Great. Singling pit bulls out is dumb enough even before considering practical problems administering this rule. Now we’re going to have a bunch of expert flight attendants trying to determine whether a dog is a “pit bull type.”

    Why not just ban animals of a certain size due to passenger safety concerns in the event of an evacuation?

  7. Someday, someone is going to try to get free airfare for their kid as an emotional support animal. After all, if my animal child is not with me, I get anxiety. A human is a type of animal. Then Delta is going to have to add to the list of bull type dogs, insects, animals with hooves, and ….. human animals.

  8. As someone who has friends and loved ones with an esa in the past, it’s a great thing. However, I think the increased pet fees on DL and the other carriers are to blame. Often the r/t fees are more than my ticket to play by the rules. That’s absurd. The fee should be tiered and tied to the animal’s weight and distance flown. If we want to stop the abuse, make the cost of certification more than flying with the animal one way or r/t.

  9. Have you guys considered ESAs literally don’t exist in Europe? Maybe get a life and pay the damn fare for your precious animal.

  10. I think Delta is very happy that you will not be flying your French Bulldog on their airplane. Especially when it is obvious that it is not a support animal and that you are just bypassing the rules to avoid the fees.

    An interesting suggestion to weigh the support animals and charge by weight and distance flown. I am TOTALLY in favour of weighing ALL passengers and their luggage and everything else they drag on board and adjust the cost of the flight based on total weight and distance flown. It would certainly be an incentive to me to shed those last few pounds that I really don’t need. I expect that my airfares would drop dramatically and there sure would be more space onboard for everyone.

  11. I find it very upsetting Pit Bulls are singled out here. I am a proud Pit Bull owner and they are truly the most loving animals out there. Just like any other breed, they act how you raise them. Many people do have Pit Bulls as ESA’s due to their loyal and loving nature. I think this is a huge mistake from Delta that will receive backlash for sure!

  12. What the hell is classsified as a “Bull type dog”? That is the most vague description ever. They need to be more specific. A large pit bull is in no way the same category as a small French bulldog that fits under the seat.

  13. @Alex/ORD Flyer
    Delta mentions “Pit Bull type dogs” in the article. French or english bulldogs are obviously not included.

    You should fix the line where you talk about “bull type dogs”

  14. Good move by Delta. ESA is BS anyway. And Pit Bulls are responsible for more fatal dog bites than all other breeds combined.

  15. @Marco
    This article specifically mentioned “PIT bull type dogs” However, on Delta’s page, the policy reads “Bull type dogs” but DID NOT specifically mentioned “PIT bull type dogs” – hence, I’m assuming ALL kinds of bulldogs are included in this restriction (not just the pit bulls like Lucky mentioned in this article)

    Maybe get clarification and edit the article to avoid confusion? Thanks!

  16. @DLPTATL

    Not sure where you heard that, but Southwest has been a pleasant experience for md no matter where I flew out of. And yes, I am an Atlanta native. I prefer them over any other US carrier, and only fly the others if they beat SW in both price and schedule.

  17. @Marlee D that literally doesn’t matter. Numbers do. Maybe pit bull owners are more often shittier than other dog owners (definitely)
    The point is they do most of the damage, whether it’s the bad owner or the bad dog, an innocent person shouldn’t have to deal with it. Golden retrievers bite fewer people than pits.

    Your opinion of the dog matters not.

  18. @Mattt: absolutely right. Plus, the injury sustained from a golden retriever attack is little in comparison to what a pit bull can do to you.

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