Delta Airlines changes policy for service and emotional support animals

GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT)- (12/11/18) - Delta Airlines passengers might need to find a different means of transporting their service and emotional support animals.

The airline said a new policy to restrict some animals and ban others altogether is designed to make sure all passengers' needs are met, but not everyone agrees.

"There are rules in place like the American Disabilities Act that provide rights for people," said Luke Zelley, president of the Disability Network in Flint.

He said Delta may not be following laws with its updated policy on emotional support and service animals.

"Service animals are providing a very specific function, so they may be trained to help open doors or to do some type of function that a person needs helps with," Zelley said. "When you think of an emotional support animals, that might just help with anxiety or stress."

Monday, the airline announced that emotional support animals would no longer be allowed in the cabin on flights more than eight hours long. Service animals under 4 months old will not be allowed on any flights, regardless of length.

"Any kind of ban that would prevent a service animal of any age, I would not support," Zelley said.

In a statement released by Delta, the airlines says safety is a concern with animals in the cabin.

"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," the statement says.

According to Delta, the updated policy follows an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals from 2016 to 2017, including animals going to the bathroom on planes, biting and attacks by dogs.

"There's also a process to make a complaint, so if you feel like somebody is using service animal that hasn't been trained, you can make complaint.

The new policy goes into effect on Dec. 18.

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