Dec. 10 (UPI) — Delta Air Lines will begin banning emotional-support animals in cabins on flights longer than eight hours, the carrier announced Monday.
In addition, neither support animals nor trained service animals will be allowed on any Delta routes if they are under 4 months old, the airline said in a news release.
The changes take effect on Dec. 18 but exceptions will be made until Feb. 1 for customers who already bought a ticket and asked to bring a support animal, the airline said.
“We will continue to review and enhance our policies and procedures as health and safety are core values at Delta,” John Laughter, senior vice president of Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance at Delta said. “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 airline noted an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals 2016-2017, including urination/defecation, biting and an attack by a 70-pound dog.
Delta said its Reservations and Customer Care teams will contact customers “to adjust reservations if the policy update impacts their travel plans.”
In January, the carrier said it flies about 700 service animals per day, a 150 percent increase since 2015.
The eight-hour flight limit is consistent with the principles outlined in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act, the company said. And the new age requirement matches the vaccination policy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Delta said.
In May, the Department of Transportation said it won’t penalize airlines if they demand assurance that a passenger has a disability or require proof of an animal’s vaccination and training. The agency also will allow airlines to impose “reasonable restrictions” on the movement of emotional-support animals in a plane’s cabin.
The DOT also is seeking public comment on possible new regulations to restrict the use of support animals.
In March, Delta began requiring 48-hour advance notice to travel with an emotional support animals.
United Continental and Americans have adopted the two-day notice policy.