Delta Airlines announced Monday that it will enact more restrictions on emotional support animals brought aboard by passengers, which will take effect on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Support animals younger than four months of age will be barred from all flights when the rules take effect. Flights longer than eight hours will ban all emotional support animals, regardless of age or species. Delta Airlines justified the change due to a reported 84 percent increase in service or support animal-related complaints from 2016 to 2017, which have included animals leaving excreting waste while in flight, and in one case, an attack by a 50-pound dog.
Customers who have booked a flight after the ban but requested the use of a support animal will be grandfathered in and permitted to fly with their animals, provided the booked flight does not occur on Feb. 1, 2019 or beyond.
"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," stated said Delta Airlines' Senior Vice President for Corporate Safety, Security, and Compliance, John Laughter.
This round of support animal clarifications is the second of 2018; Delta announced in January that it would ban non-traditional support animals such as spiders or exotic pets.
Service animal accommodations are designed to allow support animals for individuals with diagnosed mental conditions, such as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) vision impairment. However, these policies have occasionally been the subject of abuse by passengers, including one incident where United Airlines declined to let a passenger fly with a peacock claimed to be an emotional support bird, though the passenger in question bought a second seat for the animal.