Last week, Delta Air Lines announced new regulations that will go into effect on March 1, people bringing service or emotional support animals on its plane will need to show proof that the animal has been vaccinated, sign a form that its well behaved and not aggressive and possess a signed letter by a doctor or licensed mental health professional certifying that the animal is needed by the passenger in order for them to fly comfortably.
As a person who flies, and flies a lot, all I can say is:
Thank You, Delta, my Gold Status will be turning Platinum very soon because you've earned my business with this new policy!
Delta says it carries more than 250,000 service and support animals a year - an increase of 150% since 2015. Now, of course, I realize that the move was intended stop the bleeding. After all, there's a difference between flying a Service animal (which flies for free) and a non-service, "carry on" pet (which flies for $150 each way on Delta.
Roughly calculated, Delta could up its revenue by a cool $22.5 million in revenue annually, if those same pets that comprise the 150% increase since 2015 had flown through paid travel).
Nonetheless, the change in policy is a godsend and I hope other carriers follow suit. Who wants to sit next to a drooling mess for 3 hours?
Clearly, people have been taking advantage of the "emotional support" angle for some time. There are even websites that will provide you with a "certified" letter for a fee and others where you can purchase little "doggie vests" with stuff like, "I'm a certified Service Animal" slapped on the sides that you can put on Rover before dragging him on a flight.
Now, I know I must sound like a service animal hater. But, I'm not at all!
In fact, I strongly believe that those that need them should have them. The policies related to service animals are intended for those that suffer from PTSD (many with this affliction have served fearlessly for our country and should be recognized and respected for that), are blind or hearing impaired and need highly specialized AND properly trained animals to get around should be allowed to bring those animals wherever they go. So, yes, I'm all for "true" service animals flying with their owners.
But, conning the system because you can't bear to think of putting "Poochie" in a kennel for a week, while you're frolicking on the beach is just plain selfish. You're taking advantage of regulations and policies intended to help those that actually NEED the help of animal, not those that want to take their pet wherever they go, regardless if it makes those around them extremely uncomfortable.
And, uncomfortable many people can become when confronted with a dog (Consider the potential of barking, yapping, drooling, aggressive behavior and the imminent creating of other messes...Not to mention, those with crippling fears of dogs, the asthmatics that may need to be hospitalized after a prolonged exposure to your "little cutie" and the highly allergic that can have adverse reactions for days after breezing pet dander and you can see how your selfishness translates into discomfort for those around you)!
But, I digress.
To close, I applaud Delta Air Lines for the courage to attempt to limit carry-on pets. It's clearly not "PC" to discuss the issue. But, the related policies that have permitted service animals to fly have been taken advantage by many who don't really need an animal on-board, and that's a good reason to address it.
Indeed, I know I don't need to be with your pet on my next flight. In fact, I prefer to use my flight time working on my next article and not worrying about "Barkie McCallister" making a mess on the seat next to me!