Unruly critters on flights leads Delta to crack down on service animals

Nervous airline passengers who needed comfort from their turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders and others have forced Delta Airlines to crack down on allowing service animals to travel on flights.

The airline announced it needs to implement advance documentation requirements for service animals after the lack of rules led to “serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight.”

The new requirements, the airline said, supports Delta’s top priority which is safety for its customers, employees and trained service and support animals while supporting the rights of customers with legitimate needs such as disabled veterans to travel with trained animals.

All kinds of critters have been found on flights, some for therapy reasons like Daniel the therapy duck and others like scorpions and snakes which shouldn’t have been on board.

Delta carries approximately 700 service or support animals daily — nearly 250,000 annually. Putting this into perspective, Delta carries more than 180 million passengers annually.

Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more. Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.

The new policy will see the creation of a Service Animal Support Desk for customers traveling with service and support animals to improve their travel experience and ensure they receive excellent customer service.

This desk will verify that the above documentation is received and confirm the customer’s reservation to travel with the animal, prior to arrival at the airport. If a form is not completed, a representative will communicate with the customer via e-mail to request the missing or incomplete items.

Delta will no longer accept exotic or unusual service or support animals.  All passengers wanting to travel with an animal has to submit a signed Veterinary Health Form and/or an immunization record (current within one year of the travel date), an Emotional Support/Psychiatric Service Animal Request form, a letter prepared and signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional, and a signed Confirmation of Animal Training form to Delta’s Service Animal Support Desk via Delta.com at least 48 hours in advance of travel.

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