Delta is cracking down on people who use fake emotional support animals to let their pets fly for free

Delta is cracking down on people who use fake emotional support animals to let their pets fly for free


AP/Branden Camp

  • Delta Air Lines is enacting stricter regulations on those who travel with service and emotional support animals.
  • The new rules are in response to a rise in safety incidents involving untrained or improperly trained animals.
  • Stricter standards with cut down on those who use the allowance of emotional support animals as a means to allow their pets to fly for free.

Delta Air Lines is enacting tighter regulations for passengers who travel with service and emotional support animals.

The move is in response to an 84% increase in incidents involving untrained or poorly trained animals since 2016. This includes issues involving animals urinating, defecating, and biting passengers or crew. There was even one case in which a passenger was mauled by an emotional support dog.

"The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel," Delta's senior vice president for corporate safety, security, and compliance, John Laughter said in a statement.

So Delta enacted its own regulations.


Beginning March 1, Delta will require all customers traveling with service animals to show proof of health or vaccinations for the animal 48 hours before flying.

Passengers traveling with emotional or psychological support animals must adhere to even stricter standards. In addition to health or vaccination records, Delta will require a signed letter from a doctor or mental health professional along with a signed document confirming an animal can behave during a flight. This is to prevent untrained animals from becoming a danger to passengers, crew, and properly trained service animals in the cabin.

Unlike service animals which are trained to perform specific tasks in support of those with disabilities, emotional support animals work by simply being a companion.

But, federal regulations governing their presence on board commercial flights are virtually non-existent. This has allowed many to abuse this privilege by using it as a means to allow their untrained pets to fly free of charge.

The stricter guidelines set forth by Delta is expected to help close that loophole and allow the airline to concentrate on the customers with a legitimate need for these animals.


According to Delta, passengers have attempted to claim turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, and even spiders as comfort animals.

Animals not permitted to serve in a service or emotional support role by the airline includes hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, gliding possums, reptiles, amphibians, goats, non-household fowl (farm poultry, game birds, birds of prey, waterfowls), animals with horns, tusks, or hooves, and animals that are improperly cleaned or emit an odor.