The Bottom Line:
- Does Delta Still Accept ESA Letters? Delta no longer recognizes emotional support animals. However, it does permit psychiatric service dogs to travel in aircraft cabins.
- What Is a PSD Letter? A PSD letter documents that you have a qualifying disability that legally entitles you to travel with your psychiatric service dog.
- How Do You Get a PSD Letter? You can obtain a PSD letter through Pettable's simple and easy process. You'll complete a short online assessment plus a consultation with a Pettable mental health professional partner.
- How Do You Qualify for a PSD Letter? You must consult with a licensed mental health professional. During your evaluation, the LMHP can determine if you're eligible. You must have a qualifying mental health or emotional disability such as PTSD, depression, autism, or ADHD.
- How To Get Started? Complete our 3-minute online quiz to find out if you're eligible.
You may have heard about major changes in airlines' policies on emotional support animals. If you have an ESA and plan to fly with Delta Airlines, you may have some questions. What is the current Delta ESA policy? How does the Delta pet policy apply? What forms are needed to travel with a service animal? In this guide, we cover ESA rule changes plus options for traditional and psychiatric service animals.
Recent Changes to Delta ESA Policy
Until recently, airlines allowed emotional support animals inside aircraft cabins. That changed in January 2021 with the U.S. DOT's new regulations. Under the updated policy, ESAs are no longer considered service animals. Airlines could now apply their standard pet policies to these animals.
Like many air carriers, Delta updated its policies after the DOT's rule change. Delta's Pets in Cabin policy now applies to former ESAs. Only dogs that perform specific assistive functions for people with disabilities fit the airline's criteria for trained service animals.
In light of these changes, Pettable no longer offers ESA letters for travel purposes. While the new Delta service dog policy includes psychiatric service dogs, you need proper documentation. First and foremost, you must have a completed US DOT Service Animal Air Travel Form. Prep for your next trip with this form plus an official PSD letter from Pettable.
How To Fly With Your Psychiatric Service Dog on Delta Airlines
You can fly your psychiatric service dog on Delta, but you must follow the Delta service dog policy. That means submitting the appropriate documentation plus adhering to Delta's rules during your actual flight. Thankfully, you can accomplish these goals with a few smart tips:
- When booking tickets, indicate that you have a service animal.
- Submit required forms and documents as soon as possible. These include the US DOT's Service Animal Transport Form plus your Pettable PSD letter.
- Check ahead for any restrictions, embargos, or quarantine mandates.
- Exercise your dog before leaving for the airport.
- Limit water and avoid overfeeding before your flight.
After arriving at the airport, inform security officers that your dog is a service animal. Cooperate during the inspection process and have your documentation ready to present. You may be asked about specific tasks your dog performs. Finally, remain courteous and always keep your dog under control.
How To Get Your Legitimate Psychiatric Service Dog Letter with Pettable
Besides the US DOT Service Animal Transport Form, you should obtain an official PSD letter for traveling with your psychiatric service dog. Pettable offers a simple process for obtaining your letter. First, you'll complete a short quiz that asks some basic questions to get the following information:
- What type of animal you have (or will have)
- Why you need a PSD letter
- When you'll need the letter
- State of residence
After this assessment, there's also a short mental health quiz. Your answers help Pettable match you with a certified mental health professional in your state. You'll have a brief consultation with this Pettable therapist. If you're approved for a psychiatric service dog letter for airline travel, your Pettable therapist will issue your letter within 24 hours.
What Is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)?
Enacted in 1986, the Air Carrier Access Act forbids disability-based discrimination in air travel. This law also defines passengers' rights plus the airlines' obligation to make air travel accessible for passengers with disabilities.
The ACAA covers a lot of ground regarding air travel and individuals with disabilities. Besides prohibiting discriminatory practices, the ACAA requires air carriers to provide accessible facilities and features such as restrooms, removable armrests and space for folding wheelchairs. It also includes provisions for accommodating assistive devices, mobility aids and service animals.
Emotional Support Animals Under the ACAA
The original version of the ACAA broadly defined service animals as those "individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability." It also included animals that "assist persons with disabilities by providing emotional support." In 2003, the DOT issued policy guidance accommodating more types of service animals and recognizing that some passengers need to travel with emotional support animals.
Before the DOT's regulation changes in January 2021, emotional support animals fit the ACAA's definition of service animals. ESAs provide critical support to individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorders, OCD, schizophrenia, and similar conditions. Unfortunately, reports grew of passengers traveling with animals claimed as ESAs but without proper documentation. Since psychiatric service dogs offer many of the same benefits as emotional support animals, traveling with a PSD may be a viable option for passengers with mental health, cognitive, or learning disabilities.
What Is the Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and Psychiatric Service Dog?
There's some overlap between the assistance provided by an emotional support animal and the functions performed by a psychiatric service dog. Both can help alleviate stress and symptoms that come with an emotional or mental disability. You follow the same process to qualify for either an ESA or a PSD.
So, what is the real difference between an emotional support animal and a psychiatric service dog? The key distinction is the type and level of training. Technically, ESAs are not required to be trained at all. However, a psychiatric service dog must meet two important guidelines for certification:
- Be well-behaved in public
- Be trained for specific tasks that alleviate symptoms of your disability
Psychiatric service dogs can do several things to help their human guardians. Common assistive functions include detecting signs of an impending panic attack and calming the person down.
Delta's Service Dog Policies
Delta service dog policy only includes trained service animals, defined as "dogs specifically trained to assist a person with a disability." The airline allows up to two service dogs per passenger, but proper procedures must be followed to ensure they're pemitted on your flight. Keep Delta's stipulations in mind when prepping for your next flight.
Delta's Required Documentations
Before boarding Delta flights with a service animal, the airline requires customers to complete and submit the US DOT Service Animal Air Travel Form. This form requests vital information about the animal: its handler, vaccination record and completed training. You must also agree to have your service dog leashed, harnessed or tethered inside the airport and onboard the airplane. Finally, you must accept financial responsibility for any damage your service animal may cause.
For flights lasting eight hours or longer, there's one additional form you'll need to submit. By completing the DOT Relief Attestation Form, you certify that your service animal either a) will not need to relieve itself during the flight or b) can relieve itself in a sanitary manner.
For flights scheduled 48 hours or more in the future, you can submit all required forms through Delta's My Trips webpage. If your flight is scheduled to leave in less than 48 hours, you can present your completed Service Animal Air Travel Form, Relief Attestation Form and PSD letter in person at the check-in counter or departure gate.
Delta PSD Letter Policies
While the Delta service dog policy doesn't specifically request a Psychiatric Service Dog letter, it's still helpful to have one prepared prior to your flight. You can submit it with your Service Animal Air Travel Form.
Other Delta Pet Policies To Know
Delta's Pet Fees
Delta charges two different types of pet fees. For its carry-on service, you'll need to pay a $95 checked pet fee for each way. For a roundtrip flight, that works out to two separate $95 pet fees. Rates are higher if you're traveling outside the United States, Canada, or Puerto Rico. International pet fees are $200 each way. For flights to and from Brazil, you'll be assessed $75 each way.
Delta Cargo fees for larger animals can vary. These fees are grouped by region — for instance, from the northeast to the southeast — and include a base fee plus additional fees based on the animal's weight.
Delta's Breed Restrictions
Delta has a few breed restrictions for animals conveyed through its cargo service. Snub- or pug-nosed breeds face a greater risk of overheating due to their condensed facial structures. Dog and cat breeds unable to travel via Delta Cargo include Persians, Scottish Folds, Himalayans, pit bull-type dogs, Pekinese, and Mastiffs.
As for carry-on pets, Delta does not cite specific breed restrictions. However, you may want to double-check with the airline before booking your ticket. Service dogs regardless of breed can travel on Delta if they meet proper documentation and behavior requirements. This includes pit bull-type dogs working as service animals.
Delta's Pet Carrier Size Requirements
To travel in an aircraft cabin, your pet must be able to fit inside a small ventilated carrier that slides under the seat in front of you. Since under-seat space can vary, Delta recommends using a carrier measuring 18 by 11 by 11 inches.
Delta's Travel Requirements
Carry-on access permits smaller animals such as cats, pet birds and small dogs to accompany you in the cabin. Your pet must meet certain requirements and be housed in a carrier during the flight. Only one pet is permitted per kennel unless you're transporting a nursing female with her litter. Some pets, such as larger dogs, cannot travel in the cabin. They may travel via the Delta Cargo service.
Pets may travel on Delta's domestic flights if they are at least 10 weeks old.
Pets traveling on international flights must be at least 16 weeks old. On flights to EU nations, pets must be at least 15 weeks of age.
Delta pet policy on domestic flights applies for animals on incoming flights to the US.
Pettable’s Tips on How to Fly with Your ESA and Psychiatric Service Dogs
Assess Your Dog's Comfort With Air Travel
While many service dogs develop calm temperaments, not every dog can handle being on an airplane. Speak with your vet about options for helping your dog, but don't automatically assume that sedation is necessary.
Know Airline Policies
Airlines' ESA and service animal policies can change at any time. Before purchasing your ticket, check with the carrier for its current rules. Don't assume that you can fly with your ESA, even if you have in the past.
Keep Documentation Accessible
You should have all applicable documentation ready to present at the airport. This includes your PSD letter from Pettable plus forms required by the DOT and the airline. Your documentation should state what tasks your animal performs to assist you.
Do service dogs fly for free on Delta?
Dogs that meet Delta's Trained Service Animal criteria travel for no charge.
Does Delta allow ESA dogs?
If your dog is only classified as an emotional support animal, it's subject to Delta pet policy for fees and kenneling. Psychiatric service dogs can perform specific functions and fly for free.
Can Delta deny my ESA?
Without documented proof of being a service animal, Delta views your ESA as a pet. Animals not conforming to Delta pet policy may not be allowed on its flights.
Which airlines still allow ESA dogs?
Most airlines have chosen not to recognize emotional support animals. Fortunately, a few airlines still allow ESA dogs: Latam Airlines, Volaris and WestJet. These carriers typically offer flights between Canada and Mexico from the United States. Additionally, several international carriers still permit some emotional support animals:
- Air France
- Asiana Air
- China Airlines
- Singapore Air
Before purchasing a ticket, you should check with the airline for specifics on their ESA policies. Some carriers only permit ESA dogs, while others require ESAs to be under a certain weight.
Can my dog sit on my lap during a Delta flight?
No. Service dogs must be on a tether, harness or leash. Pets, including those formerly covered by Delta ESA policy, must be housed in appropriate-sized carriers.