New Comfort-Service Animal Restrictions by Airlines

Federal guidelines for emotional support and service animals in airline cabins are on the way, but some airlines are not waiting for them.  Delta Airlines has just created their own restrictions on animals permitted inside the airline cabin, as well as stronger proof requirements that the animals are (1) truly needed, and (2) that they have gone through training to become ‘flight ready’.  The airline states the new restrictions were necessary to reduce the growing number of problems and threats to passengers.

Following the lead of Delta, United Airlines has subsequently tightened their restrictions for comfort animals permitted in the cabin…

United joins Delta in updating policies to deal with a flood of comfort animals

The tide is shifting for comfort animals permitted in the cabin following a dramatic increase of comfort animals aboard passenger flights as well as an increase in problems related to those animals in the cabin…

United Airlines updated its policy February 1, 2018 dealing with emotional-support animals, echoing Delta Air Lines in requiring documentation about the animal’s health and training.

United had been reviewing its policy since late last year after a 75% increase in emotional-support animals on flights and “a significant increase in onboard incidents.” The number of comfort animals flying on the airline jumped from 43,000 in 2016 to 76,000 last year, according to Charlie Hobart, a United spokesman.

United’s update coincided with an incident Sunday when the carrier refused to accept a peacock named Dexter aboard a flight from Newark to Los Angeles. The peacock was rejected under the airline’s previous policy for health and safety reasons. (Scroll down for more on this story.)


What are the changes in policies of major airlines for comfort animals?

Each of the three largest airlines require notification about a comfort animals 48 hours before departure, with a note from a licensed medical professional confirming the passenger’s disability and need for the animal.

United joined Delta in requiring notes that confirm the animal’s health from a veterinarian and that confirm the animal’s training to behave in a public setting, to avoid problems with urination or defecation during the flight.



Delta tightens leash on comfort animals on flights, with rules for lack of federal regulation

USA Today

Delta Air Lines unveiled its own tighter rules Friday for passengers flying with emotional-support animals that increasingly disrupt flights.

The rules come as the airline carries about 700 assistance animals each day that the carrier says are increasingly misbehaving by wandering the cabin, defecating or even biting passengers.

Delta’s rules for traveling with service and comfort animals starting March 1 require documentation confirming the safety and necessity of the animal 48 hours before departure.

The passenger must provide a veterinary health form or vaccination record for either category of animals. For comfort animals and psychiatric-service animals, the passenger must also provide:

♦A letter signed by a doctor or licensed mental-health professional stating the passenger’s need for the animal.

♦A signed letter stating the animal is trained to behave without a kennel.

Types of animals restricted

In addition to proof of need and proof of training, Delta is also restricting certain types of animals in the cabin.  The airlines states that in the past passengers have brought turkeys, possums and snakes on planes as comfort animals.  Delta said it won’t accept those critters as comfort animals any more — or other exotic animals such as hedgehogs, ferrets, reptiles or anything with tusks or hooves.


More on emotional support animals:


peacock comfort animal banned by airlines


A woman tried to board a plane with her emotional support peacock. United wouldn’t let it fly.

Airlines that have begun talking about tightening restrictions on a proliferating array of “emotional support” animals on commercial flights may have found their case bolstered this week after a picture of a peacock that was reportedly denied a seat aboard a United Airlines flight traveled far and wide.


Attention, fliers: You may need to leave your ‘comfort’ animal at home