Delta changes policy on service animals

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Dan O

OBS Chief
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Feb 21, 2008
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Boarding a Delta flight with your service pooch is about to get tougher.

The airline on Friday said it was implementing new regulations on March 1 for people bringing service or emotional support animals on its planes.

All passengers attempting to board with a service animal will have to show "proof," 48 hours before flying, that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated. Passengers with emotional support animals must sign a form that the animal is well behaved and won't act aggressively. In addition they have to present a letter prepared and signed "by a doctor or licensed mental health professional that certifies they need a comfort pet."
http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/19/news/companies/delta-service-animals/index.html

More and more I see chihuahuas and other small dogs in grocerty stores, government bldgs, etc. Is everyone w/ a small pooch disabled?
 
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Blackwolf

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Nov 12, 2011
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One just has to ask the two questions about a Service Animal that are allowed under ADA:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
The dog's owner must answer these two questions when asked, otherwise you are legally allowed to bar the animal entry and not violate ADA.

The task that the service animal is trained to do must be directly related to the owner’s disability.

You are not allowed to legally ask these questions if the answer is obvious (eg: blind person with a guide dog, pulling a wheelchair.)

You cannot ask:

  • about the nature or extent of an individual’s disability
  • to require proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal
  • to require the animal to wear an identifying vest or tag
  • that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the task or work
Emotional Support Animals are not supported by ADA or any other law. Delta allowing them is still by their own good graces, and I commend them for tightening up the ambiguity of admittance into black and white rules.
 

Green Maned Lion

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If someone is so bound to their pet that they cant leave home without major emotional trauma such that they would subject them to the horrors of aircraft travel, isnt that proof enough they are mentally fahrklempt?
 

MattW

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One just has to ask the two questions about a Service Animal that are allowed under ADA:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
The dog's owner must answer these two questions when asked, otherwise you are legally allowed to bar the animal entry and not violate ADA.

The task that the service animal is trained to do must be directly related to the owner’s disability.

You are not allowed to legally ask these questions if the answer is obvious (eg: blind person with a guide dog, pulling a wheelchair.)

You cannot ask:

  • about the nature or extent of an individual’s disability
  • to require proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal
  • to require the animal to wear an identifying vest or tag
  • that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the task or work
Emotional Support Animals are not supported by ADA or any other law. Delta allowing them is still by their own good graces, and I commend them for tightening up the ambiguity of admittance into black and white rules.
I thought emotional support animals had some other Federal carve out for airlines?

If someone is so bound to their pet that they cant leave home without major emotional trauma such that they would subject them to the horrors of aircraft travel, isnt that proof enough they are mentally fahrklempt?
It's not your place to judge others. People may not need the support on the plane, but they may need them at their destination, regardless, it doesn't matter, they have just as much right as "able-bodied" people to go places in public, and if they need an assistive animal to do so, then so be it!
 

Blackwolf

Conductor
Joined
Nov 12, 2011
Messages
1,507
One just has to ask the two questions about a Service Animal that are allowed under ADA:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
The dog's owner must answer these two questions when asked, otherwise you are legally allowed to bar the animal entry and not violate ADA.

The task that the service animal is trained to do must be directly related to the owner’s disability.

You are not allowed to legally ask these questions if the answer is obvious (eg: blind person with a guide dog, pulling a wheelchair.)

You cannot ask:

  • about the nature or extent of an individual’s disability
  • to require proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal
  • to require the animal to wear an identifying vest or tag
  • that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the task or work
Emotional Support Animals are not supported by ADA or any other law. Delta allowing them is still by their own good graces, and I commend them for tightening up the ambiguity of admittance into black and white rules.
I thought emotional support animals had some other Federal carve out for airlines?
I've looked that up, and indeed, I was partially ill-advised. Yes, there is a section in the Air Carriers Access Act that grants so-called "Emotional Support Animals" the ability to travel with their diagnosed mentally disabled owner, uncaged and without an additional fee aboard a passenger aircraft. However, the airlines themselves are allowed to draft rules, and revise them as desired (such as Delta has done,) which set the limits and what type of documentation is required of the owners in order to allow said animal on their aircraft. Such rules and documentation may include:

  • limits of only one animal per traveling party (aka, one PNR with multiple people on the itinerary may only have a single ESA allowed.)
  • may require a notarized Dr's note saying why the person needs an ESA as well as valid contact information so that the airline can reach out to the issuing MD and verify the documentation before travel is permitted.
  • requiring proof that the animal will not cause any disturbance of any kind to other passengers or crew during transit.
The owner assumes all fiscal responsibility for any incidents that may arise due to the animal, and sign wavers attesting to this. And, if the animal becomes a nuisance, the airline is legally allowed to take action including restraining the animal or even diverting the aircraft to remove the animal (and their owner) from the plane at the owners expense.
 

PVD

Conductor
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Messages
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Air Carrier Access Act forced airlines to accept Emotional Support Animals in addition to Service Animals, that is a major source of the problem. Amtrak is not required (and to the best of my knowledge does not accept) emotional support, only "service" animals.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
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It's basically for people with serious mental problems who can only remain calm on a trip if they have their pet. (Think people with a combination of learning & communications disabilities & PTSD, if you want the most piteous example.) It's a real thing. Many of the people who need it travel with caretakers already, but they need their pet.

...the concept has been seriously abused by people who don't have those mental problems, sadly, to the detriment of the people who need it.
 
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Joined
Feb 10, 2020
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It's basically for people with serious mental problems who can only remain calm on a trip if they have their pet. (Think people with a combination of learning & communications disabilities & PTSD, if you want the most piteous example.) It's a real thing. Many of the people who need it travel with caretakers already, but they need their pet.

...the concept has been seriously abused by people who don't have those mental problems, sadly, to the detriment of the people who need it.
If someone is so bound to their pet that they cant leave home without major emotional trauma such that they would subject them to the horrors of aircraft travel, isnt that proof enough they are mentally fahrklempt?
A service dog may be used for a number of reasons, for example, my wife is a diabetic, my dog is being trained to recognize a diabetic reaction to her medicine.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Messages
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I don't know anyone who is seriously against admitting legitimate service animals. Most of the time I don't even notice a service animal has been traveling with me unless we happen to board or disembark at the same time. The problem is that there is no quick and obvious method for busy staff to separate genuine needs from intentional fraud. The absurd insistence that nobody be expected to carry any official documentation or be asked too many questions has created this impasse and turned otherwise sympathetic folks like me against the current implementation. I realize that forcing people to carry identification can be especially punitive to poor people, so I support using my taxes to make ID's for those who cannot afford to purchase their own. I'd even be okay with allowing non-service animals that have been formally trained and evaluated for suitability of traveling in public. Obviously someone who really wants to bring an untrained and potentially unsafe animal aboard will probably find a way, but that shouldn't deter or prohibit us from raising the barrier to entry and cracking down on those who repeatedly abuse our trust.
 
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MARC Rider

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I realize that forcing people to carry identification can be especially punitive to poor people, so I support using my taxes to make ID's for those who cannot afford to purchase their own.
Poor people (lust like non-poor people) already have to carry identification for themselves if they expect to be able to board a plane. I'm not sure why requiring documentation about service animals is "punitive," but I agree with you that I would support using tax dollars to help people who can't afford to get the proper documentation. Actually, I would support using tax dollars to ensure that all people who need ID or other documentation from the government can get it without additional charge.
 
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