What You Need to Know About New Air Travel Policies



The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced that airlines cannot institute breed-specific bans on service dogs. This new regulation overturned the ban on pit bull-type service dogs that Delta Airlines put into place last year.


“The Department’s Enforcement Office views a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal to not be allowed under its service animal regulation,” said the statement from the DOT. “The Enforcement Office intends to use available resources to ensure that dogs as a species are accepted for transport.”


Delta announced the pit bull ban in June 2018 after two of its employees were bitten by a pit bull service animal. Even though breed bans may no longer be allowed, the DOT stated that airlines can determine whether any specific animal, regardless of its breed, poses a threat to employees or customers.


The DOT also provided greater clarification concerning other pet travel policies. It said service and emotional support animals are permitted on flights longer than eight hours, provided that owners submit documentation demonstrating that the animal will not not have issues relieving itself in a sanitary manner. This policy contradicts a Delta regulation that bans emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours.


Airlines are also no longer allowed to require advance notice for passengers traveling with service animals, an issue we covered in 2018. The DOT argues that requiring “advance notice may significantly harm passengers with disabilities as it prevents them from making last minute travel plans that may be necessary for work or family emergencies.”


However, the DOT upheld the legality of age restrictions, such as those that ban service dogs younger than four months, as well as limits on animals deemed too large or heavy for transport in the airplane cabin.


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