Delta & United Airlines Ban Emotional Support Animals; Form Required for Trained Service Dogs

Delta and United Airlines join other major U.S. Airlines in ban on emotional support animals. We covered the updates to polices that banned emotional support animals by American Airlines and Alaska Airlines last week.

Delta has updated the service animal policy and will no longer recognize emotional support animals as service animals. As of January 11th, emotional support animals will no longer be ticketed on any Delta Flight. Customers may continue to elect to travel with a pet in cabin if they meet Delta’s Travel Policy requirements.

According to Delta, people may continue to fly with trained service dogs, but they will be required to fill out DOT documentation confirming the service animal meets training, behavior, and health qualifications. They also mentioned they would lift the ban pit bull type dogs if they meet the DOT documentation guidelines as trained service dogs.

Here is an excerpt from their website covering the major changes to the Delta Service Animal Policy effective January 11th:

  • Delta will no longer accept new bookings for emotional support animals.

  • Customers who hold a ticket with their emotional support animal(s) confirmed for travel prior to Jan 11. may still travel as planned on Delta.

  • Trained service animals are defined as dogs regardless of breed, specifically trained to assist a person with a disability.

  • Delta will lift its ban on pit bull type dogs that meet documentation requirements for trained service animals; however, in line with Delta’s current policy, pit bull type dogs will not be allowed to travel as emotional support animals for those customers ticketed and confirmed before Jan. 11.

  • Customers traveling with a trained service dog(s) should submit DOT documentation via attesting to the dog’s health, training and behavior 48 hours prior to departure. If travel is booked less than 48 hours prior to departure, a customer may present the documentation at the ticket counter or at the departure gate.

  • Customers traveling with a trained service dog on flights scheduled for eight hours or more must also submit a DOT Relief Attestation form available on Delta's website attesting that the dog will not relieve itself in the aircraft or can do so without causing health or sanitization issues.

  • Delta will continue to deny boarding to any trained service animal that poses a threat or demonstrates aggressive or inappropriate behavior in a public setting.

United Airlines also made major changes to their service animal transportation policy. United said Friday that starting Monday January 11th, it will no longer let passengers book travel for companion animals. For people who book before the deadline, free travel for companions will end Feb. 28th.

After January 11th, United said, only trained service dogs may fly in the cabin while not being in a carrier. Owners will have to submit a government-approved DOT form attesting to the dog's training, vaccines and disposition. Therapy animals trained to visit nursing homes and other settings don't count as trained service dogs, United said.

Owners may be able to transport other animals in the cargo hold or in carriers that fit under a seat in the cabin. Either way, the owner will pay a pet fee, which starts at $125 per flight.

For more information on United Airlines policies see these resources:

United Airlines: Service Animal Policy or In-Cabin Pet Policy.

The government rules announced last month require airlines to continue to accept service dogs that are trained individually to help a person with a disability. However the rule change also lets airlines deny free boarding for companion or emotional support animals that are not trained service dogs.

For many years, thousands of passengers relied on a previous regulation to bring an animal on board for free by claiming that it provided emotional support. Airlines and flight attendants believed some passengers abused the rule to avoid pet travel fees. These airlines also cited a huge increase in problems occurring in flight due to poor behavior or lack of training for companion animals that were previously allowed on-board without a carrier. Each airline that has banned emotional support animals is utilizing the DOT rule change with most new policies going into effect January 11th, 2021.