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Delta Airlines – 2018 Service Dog Policy

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Delta carries approximately 250,000 Service and Emotional Support Animals each year. However, as of March 01, 2018, they are tightening their policy for these working animals in an effort to reduce “misbehavior” by dogs (and other creatures). Although the carrier is required by law to admit Service animals and ESA’s into the cabin of the craft, they can and are putting extra rules into place.

What is the new policy? How does this affect those with disabilities that need a Service Dog? Read on for the important facts you will need to know before you book your next flight with Delta.

What is a Service Animal?

There is a difference between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal. Service animals are typically dogs that have been trained to perform a specific task for an individual with a disability. This can be any number of things from picking up dropped items to opening doors, to alerting the person to an oncoming medical situation.

The Emotional Support Animal, on the other hand, is there only to provide the individual with comfort and support. These can be of any species of animal and do not need to be trained for a specific service, other than comfort.

Service Dog Certification Registration

Why is Delta Changing Their Service Dog Policy?

Delta has seen a surge of 150 percent in service animals (that by Federal law must be allowed to fly uncaged and at no additional cost to the passenger) since 2015. However, there have been incidences of customers “attempting to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more.”

This has increased the complaints from Delta passengers concerning allergies, and other disturbances, as well as abuse to the Service Dog policy, with some of these clients just trying to fly their pets for free.

With an average of more than 200 service animals and 500 support animals flying on a daily basis, and the fact that in-flight incidences with these types of animals have risen 84 percent since 2016, Delta felt the need to change-up their policies.

delta airplane

Delta said; More untrained animals are being brought onto planes, where they urinate, defecate, bark, growl, lunge and exhibit other behavior uncommon among companions that are properly taught.”

What is the New Delta Policy Regarding Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals?

As of the first of March 2018, Delta will require all passengers with service dogs or emotional support animals to submit proof of health or vaccinations. This will have to be done through Delta’s website 48 hours before flight time.

Those customers requiring an ESA or Psychiatric Service Animal must (in addition to the health record) sign a document stating the animal’s “ability to behave in the cabin or risk being barred from boarding or removed from the plane.”

However, Delta does not require any proof that the animal has graduated from obedience school. But be aware that you will need to provide a letter prepared and signed by your licensed mental health professional explaining why you need an ESA to accompany you on the flight.

Where can I get the new Delta service dog forms?

Before you fly with Delta, be sure to visit their website to download the proper forms you will need before your flight. The new Delta service dog travel forms can be accessed here.

Behaviors Delta Will Not Tolerate

With these stricter policies, Delta urges those folks traveling with animals in the cabin of the aircraft to have their “working” animals under control at all times. Behaviors that will not be tolerated include;

  • Growling
  • Jumping on passengers
  • Relieving themselves in the gate area or cabin
  • Barking excessively, not in response to a handler’s need or distress
  • Eating off seat back tray tables

Delta reserves the right to refuse transportation for any animal exhibiting unruly behavior.


If you are planning a trip on Delta airlines and need a Service or an Emotional Support Animal, be sure to have your animal’s health or proof of vaccination certificate. If you are traveling with an ESA or psychiatric service animal, you will also need a note from your mental health professional stating your need for the animal. Be sure to visit Delta’s website for further downloads and let them know you will be traveling with a “working” animal 48 hours prior to your flight. To register your service animal and receive your service dog certification, complete the registration in the link below.

Service Dog Registry


  1. Patricia says: November 24, 2019
  2. Cindy Thomson says: May 2, 2019

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