Delta airline esa policy

Delta Airlines Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and Psychiatric Service Dog Policy

The Bottom Line

  • Does Delta Airlines Still Accept ESA Letters? Delta Airlines no longer recognizes emotional support animals. However, it does permit psychiatric and trained service dogs to travel in aircraft cabins.
  • What Is a PSD Letter? A psychiatric service dog (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 (LMHP). During your evaluation, the LMHP can determine if you're eligible. You must have 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 significant 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? To travel with a service animal, what forms are needed, such as a signed veterinary health form? This guide covers ESA rule changes and options for traditional and psychiatric service animals.

Recent Changes to Delta's ESA Policy

Until recently, airlines allowed emotional support animals inside aircraft cabins. That changed in January 2021 with the US 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. This gives ESA owners two options who wish to fly with their animal companions. First, bring along your ESA as a pet, adhering to Delta's pet policies and fees. Alternatively, you could have your ESA trained as a psychiatric service dog and obtain a PSD letter from Pettable to make this status official and allow your dog to fly with you. 

These changes mean Pettable no longer offers ESA letters for travel purposes. While the new Delta Airlines' 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 Airlines, but you must follow the Delta service dog policy. That means submitting the appropriate documentation and adhering to Delta's rules during your flight. Thankfully, you can accomplish these goals with a few smart tips:

  • When booking tickets, indicate that you have a service animal.
  • Submit the 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:

  1. Inform security officers that your dog is a service animal.
  2. Cooperate during the inspection process and have your documentation ready to present. You may be asked about specific tasks your dog performs.
  3. 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 hassle-free, simple process for getting your letter. 

Take Our Online Assessment

First, you'll complete a short quiz that asks some basic questions to get the following information:

  • What type of animal do 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. The evaluation and examination will help give us a clear picture of your circumstances and needs for a psychiatric service dog. 

Meet with a Licensed Mental Health Professional 

Your answers will also help Pettable match you with a certified LMHP in your state. After completing some privacy and consent forms, we'll send you a link to book a live consultation with this Pettable therapist. They have the knowledge and authority to evaluate your mental health and determine your eligibility for a psychiatric service dog. 

Obtain Your Official PSD Letter

Suppose you're approved for a psychiatric service dog as an essential component of your mental health treatment plan and a PSD letter for airline travel. In that case, your Pettable therapist will issue your letter. If you choose, you'll even have the option to get a PSD letter within 24 hours after your appointment (excluding California residents). 

We also provide a satisfaction guarantee, meaning that we'll give you a full refund for our services in the unlikely event that your PSD letter doesn't work for you.

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. 

Essentially, the goals of the ACAA are to:

  1. Prevent all airlines – foreign and within the US – from discriminating against passengers based on a disability.
  2. Make airplanes and airport facilities accessible.
  3. Ensure that airlines take the proper steps to accommodate any passengers with a disability. 

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 accommodations for 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 assist 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 without proper documentation. Since psychiatric service dogs offer many of the same benefits as emotional support animals, traveling with a PSD may be viable 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. And the list of mental health conditions that allow an individual for a PSD is the same as it is to prepare for an ESA, including

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia

So, what is the difference between an emotional support animal and a psychiatric service dog? The critical 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 essential guidelines for certification:

  • Be well-behaved in public
  • Be prepared for specific tasks that alleviate symptoms of your disability

Psychiatric service dogs can do several things to help their human guardians. Standard assistive functions include detecting signs of an impending panic attack and calming the person down.

Additionally, ESAs and PSDs have different legal protections. Both assistance animals are federally required to be given reasonable accommodation to live with their owner in any housing. A psychiatric service animal, however, is also allowed access to most public places and public transportation, while emotional support animals are not. 

Delta Airlines' Service Dog Policies

Delta Airlines' service dog policy only includes trained service animals, defined as "dogs specifically trained to assist a person with a disability." Delta's policy does not focus on a support animal. The airline allows up to two service dogs per passenger, but proper procedures must be followed to ensure they're permitted on your flight. Keep Delta Airlines' 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's 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.

Advanced Notice 

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 expected 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, having one prepared before your flight is still helpful, 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 pays two separate $95 pet fees. Rates are higher if traveling outside the United States, Canada, or Puerto Rico. International pet fees are $200 each way. You'll be assessed $75 each way for flights to and from Brazil.

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 soft-sided carrier measuring 18 by 11 by 11 inches or smaller. The allowable size may differ from this, depending on the aircraft. For a specific recommendation on kennel size, contact Delta Reservations

Your pet must also fit comfortably within the kennel or carrier, able to move around and not protrude from the sides. 

Delta's Travel Requirements

As of July 14, 2021, the CDC temporarily prohibits dogs from traveling from countries at high risk for dog rabies. Within the last six months, dogs in high-risk countries are also temporarily suspended from flying. This includes pets and trained service animals alike. 

Carry-on access permits smaller animals such as cats, pet birds, and small dogs to accompany you in the cabin. Your pet must meet specific 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 or two pets of the same breed and size between 10 weeks and six months, as long as they are small enough to fit in one kennel. Some pets, such as larger dogs, cannot travel in the cabin. They may travel via the Delta Cargo service.

Domestic

Pets may travel on Delta's domestic flights if they are at least ten weeks old.

International

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 does not transport pets in the cabin to or from these locations:

  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Dubai
  • Hawaii
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United Arab Emirates

US Inbound

Delta's pet policy on domestic flights applies to 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.

Come Prepared

On the day of your flight, arrive at the airport as early as possible to give yourself plenty of time for checking in, checking baggage, going through security, letting your animal relieve themselves, and boarding the plane. Have your completed DOT forms and PSD letter handy. Double-check your flight's status before you get to the airport, and try to exercise your dog before take-off to encourage sleepiness during the flight. And be sure to watch out for any gate or flight time changes. 

Staying around the gate area can help Delta employees be aware that they have a service animal or even a regular pet and will need to have special accommodations. While certain animals can stay in the passenger's lap, there are requirements for trained service dogs, especially if they have specific training.

Help Your Dog Stay Comfortable

Bring along pee pads in case of an accident. If your dog has to go while you're on the plane, take them to the restroom and put the pee pad on the floor. While at the airport, be aware of the location of the nearest animal relief area. 

Dogs can experience motion sickness just like humans, so avoid overfeeding them before your flight. You may also consider bringing along a chew toy to relieve discomfort from pressure build-up in your dog's ears during take-off and landing. 

Bring your PSD along for the trip - get started on your PSD letter!

FAQ

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? 

Delta views your ESA as a pet without documented proof of being a service animal. Animals not conforming to Delta pet policy may not be allowed on its flights.

Which airlines are still allowing 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
  • KLM
  • Lufthansa
  • 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 rope, harness, or leash. Pets, formerly covered by Delta ESA policy, must be housed in appropriate-sized carriers.

Are service dogs with Delta strict?

Delta adheres to legal obligations to accommodate and accept trained service animals on a flight. They will, however, deny a trained service dog boarding on a plane if that animal poses a threat to the health and safety of others or shows aggressive or inappropriate behavior in public. 

Can a service dog sit on your lap during a flight?

A service dog on a Delta flight must sit either in your foot space or on your lap, as long as they fit. This means a service animal can sit on your lap as long as they are no bigger than a child under two years old. Your dog is permitted to sit on your lap during all stages of the flight, including take-off and landing. Service animals may not occupy seats or be in the cabin free of restraints. They must be adequately trained and cannot be in the cabin barking excessively or taking up other passengers' floor space.

What is Delta's ESA policy?

Delta no longer accepts emotional support animals. This is in line with the ACAA's 2021 update, which no longer requires airline regulations to recognize ESAs like service animals. Instead, ESAs are recognized as pets, and owners who wish to travel with an emotional support animal must adhere to all Delta's fees and policies. 

Are ESA allowed on planes in 2022?

Yes, but no longer in the same capacity as a service animal (with most airlines). Emotional support animals are allowed on planes as pets, submitting to all rules and fees that typically apply to pets on that airline. If the dog shows disruptive or aggressive behavior, Delta's current policy states they are allowed to deny the service animal.