Delta bans emotional support animals on long flights

Delta Airlines on Monday announced that it will ban all emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours starting this month. 

The Atlanta-based airline will also ban emotional support and service animals less than four months old from all of its flights, the company announced. 

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“These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs — such as veterans with disabilities — to travel with trained service and support animals,” John Laughter, Delta’s senior vice president for corporate safety, security and compliance, said in a statement.

Delta in the statement said there was an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals between 2016 and 2017. The incidents included urination, defamation, biting and an attack by a 50-pound dog.

"We will continue to review and enhance our policies and procedures as health and safety are core values at Delta," Laughter said. 

The airline's ban will go into effect for tickets purchased on or after December 18. However, passengers who purchased tickets before that date and had requested to travel with a service or support animal will be allowed to take their animals on the flight. Exceptions to the new rules will end on Feb. 1, 2019. 

The number of emotional support animals on commercial flights surged 74 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to Airlines For America