If you fly with your animal, make sure to read this

By on January 20, 2018

Delta Airlines has carried hundreds of thousands of animals for free, like all American airlines, in recent years. Folks who bring the family dog on a plane trip have paid for their animal’s seat, but pets taken as service or comfort animals ride for free. What accounts for the difference? Regular ol’ pets are treated as regular ol’ passengers while service or therapy animals are on board to serve an essential purpose for their owners. It’s fair and it’s the law.

What has become a concern for Delta and its passengers is the rapidly-rising number of bites and potty accidents on flights in the last few years. Related to that concern, Delta wants to protect itself and its passengers and it will attempt to by changing its rules on service and therapy animals.

The bottom line: if you want to bring your comfort or therapy animal on future Delta flights, you’ll need to do two things:

1. You’ll need to document safe and appropriate behavior your animal has exhibited on previous flights.

2. You’ll need to have legit documentation that establishes your animal as a necessary comfort or service need.

Outside the worry over safety and accidents, Delta is concerned that flyers have taken advantage of the “fly for free” law for service and comfort animals. This Wall Street Journal article tells of passengers who have passed their pet snakes off as comfort animals. Also among the free flyers: turkeys, sugar gliders, and spiders. Far cries from the seeing-eye dog for people with vision loss and comfort animals for children with disabilities, the spirit of the rule seems to have been bent every which way.

Delta’s new policy takes effect on March 1, 2017, so if you’ve flown with an animal as part of the Airline Access Act which allows for a free ride, it’s now up to you to prove the animal is there according to the law made to promote fairness in flight. It’s a small price to pay, says one woman with vision loss in the aforementioned article, to rid flights of fake service dogs and things like comfort turkeys.

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