In a move that should make flying Delta less interesting—if more pleasant for flight attendants currently tasked with cleaning up emotional support poop—Delta Airlines announced today that it is cracking down on the practice of allowing emotional support animals in the cabin on flights. Citing an 84 percent increase in “animal incidents”—mostly involving poop, pee, biting, and noise—on board its flights since 2016, Delta’s press release calls bullshit on whether that support duck was actually necessary, writing, “Delta employees reported increased acts of aggression (barking, growling, lunging. and biting) from service and support animals, behavior not typically seen in these animals when properly trained and working.” Specifically, the release cites the case of a 70-pound emotional support dog who bit another passenger in the face on a Delta flight back in June.
Currently, all a passenger needs to spare their beloved pup—or snake, or sugar glider, or turkey—from the indignity (and cost) of riding down below with the luggage is a letter from a certified mental health professional declaring the passenger “emotionally disabled.” And while some people undoubtedly need their emotional support animals, many more have been getting their letters from websites like this one, essentially the support-animal equivalent of those storefront doctors who’ll write you a marijuana prescription for just about anything. Then there are the people who buy fake service-animal vests or harnesses in order to get their untrained dogs onto flights for free.
So, as of this March, in order to bring your trained service animal on board a Delta Airlines flight for free, you’ll have to submit the animal’s health and/or immunizations record 48 hours ahead of time. As for emotional support animals, their owners will have to submit an application that includes the aforementioned letter and “a signed document confirming that their animal can behave” as well as the animal’s health records. The airline will also no longer allow “exotic or unusual” support animals on board its flights as of March 1, so if you continue to insist that nothing soothes your anxiety like a bearded dragon, you’ll have to fly United instead.