Updated for 2021
In this article, we’ll lay out what Delta’s current policy is for flying with an emotional support animal (ESA), psychiatric service dog (PSD) or normal pet.
Delta made a major change to its policy early in 2021. As a result of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) new rules for emotional support animals, Delta stopped recognizing ESAs on January 11th, 2021. Psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) on the other hand are still allowed to board the cabin of Delta flights free of charge.
For ESA owners traveling with Delta, their emotional support animals will be treated as normal pets. That means that your ESA will be subject to the same fees and restrictions applicable to pets. Unfortunately, many ESAs will not be able to board the cabin at all due to these restrictions and many owners will not be able to afford the fees which can run $125 each way.
We’ll explain what you need to know if you are flying with a psychiatric service dog or pet on an upcoming Delta flight.
Traveling with a Psychiatric Service Dog
Psychiatric service dogs are allowed to board flights in the cabin free of charge under the DOT’s latest rules. PSDs are also exempt from pet restrictions such as those relating to size, weight and breed. If you are an ESA owner or are suffering from a mental or emotional health disability, you may be able to qualify for a PSD if certain conditions are met. Similar to an ESA, a psychiatric service dog helps with mental health issues.
The critical difference between an ESA and a PSD however is that a psychiatric service dog is trained to perform tasks relating to the owner’s disability. In comparison, an emotional support animal does not need any special training and provides comfort just by being around its owner.
If you don’t need your dog to perform tasks relating to your disability, or if your dog cannot be trained to perform such tasks reliably, then a PSD is not right for you. If you think you may need a psychiatric service dog, however, ESA Doctors can connect you to a licensed healthcare professional that can provide a PSD letter if you qualify. A PSD letter helps to establish whether you have a qualifying disability for the purposes of owning a psychiatric service dog.
For more detailed information on how to fly with PSDs generally click here.
Delta Document Requirements for Psychiatric Service Dogs
In order to fly with a psychiatric service dog, you must submit the DOT’s Service Animal Air Transportation Form to Delta prior to your flight. The form requires the passenger to make various certifications about their PSD, including that it has been properly trained, vaccinated, and will be well-behaved and under the control of its handler.
For flights that are longer than 8 hours, the passenger must submit a second form, the DOT’s Service Animal Relief Attestation Form. The passenger must certify on the form that their service dog will not relieve itself during the flight or can do so in a sanitary manner.
PSD owners should submit these forms at least 48 hours before their flight. If you book a flight within 48 hours of departure, you can submit the form at the gate before boarding.
How to Submit Service Animal Documents to Delta
Submitting your Service Animal documents to Delta can seem overwhelming, but it’s easy if you know what to look for. Follow the quick guide below to secure your Service Animal’s spot on the plane.
- If you are submitting documents at least 48 hours in advance of your trip, you can submit your service animal documents on Delta’s My Trips section. (If you booked your flight less than 48 hours in advance, you can present your documents when you check-in or at the departure gate.)
- In the “Special Service Requests” click on Accessibility Request Form.
- Fill out your information and upload your documents.
- Breathe and relax. You’re ready to go!
In-Flight Requirements for Delta
During the flight, PSDs are expected to be seated in the floor space below the passenger’s seat or in the passenger’s lap. The size of the service dog cannot exceed the footprint of the passenger’s seat.
PSDs are allowed to ride in the passenger’s lap for all phases of the flight, including ground movement, take-off, and landing, provided the psychiatric service dog is no larger than a lap-held child who is less than two years old. If they are larger than that, they will need to sit on the floor. Psychiatric service dogs are also not allowed to occupy an entire seat to themselves.
Delta can refuse accommodation of your psychiatric service dog if it engages in disruptive or aggressive behavior such as:
- Jumping on other people
- Relieving themselves in the gate area or cabin
- Barking excessively (and not in response to a handler’s need or distress)
- Eating off seatback tray tables
A PSD is not only trained to perform tasks relating to a mental health condition, but it must also be trained to be well-behaved in public settings and comfortably handle busy environments like airports and planes.
Other Things to Note When Flying with a PSD on Delta
PSD owners that have pit bulls or other breeds of dogs can board flights as long as they meet the documentation and behavior requirements for trained service animals. Also, it should be noted that only dogs are allowed to be service animals for purposes of the DOT’s rules.
It is important to note as well that a service dog in training is not yet considered a service dog that Delta will acknowledge. However, Delta will allow a service animal in training to travel with a professional trainer en route to the owner.
As a PSD owner, you can also visit Delta’s Sky Club Lounges with your PSD at your side.
How to Get your Psychiatric Service Dog Letter from ESA Doctors
Flying with a Pet on Delta
If your animal is not a service dog, you may be able to board a Delta flight if your pet meets certain requirements. Small pets such as dogs, cats, and birds can travel in the cabin for a one-way fee. Delta charges $125 each way for flights to/from the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, and $200 for international flights.
The pet must be able to fit in a small ventilated pet carrier that can fit under the seat in front of the passenger. The carrier will count as a carry-on item (the passenger can also still have one personal item).
Be aware that Delta has other restrictions based on destination. For flights to Hawaii, pets are not permitted to board the cabin (but service dogs are). Restrictions may apply for other destinations as well, particularly international ones.
Delta also has the following requirements for pets:
- The pet must be small enough to fit in a kennel without touching or protruding from the sides of the kennel, and the pet must be able to move around within the kennel.
- The kennel must fit under the seat in front of the passenger.
- The kennel must be leak-proof and be ventilated on three sides (four for international flights).
- Maximum kennel dimensions allowed will vary based on the flight.
- The pet must be at least 10 weeks old for domestic flights, 16 weeks old for flights from the U.S. to other countries, and 15 weeks old for flights to the EU.
- Only one pet is permitted per kennel, except for one female cat/dog/ that can travel with an un-weaned litter if the letter is a minimum of 10 weeks old to 6 months of age.
- Two pets of the same breed/size between the age of 10 weeks and 6 months may be allowed to travel in one kennel if they are small enough to fit and are compatible. In such a case, the two pets will be charged as 1 pet.
Pets are accepted on flights on a first-come-first-serve basis and Delta limits the total number of pets for each flight. If you are planning to fly with a pet it’s smart to reserve your spot as early as possible.
If you have access to the Delta Sky Club, the policies for pets are the same as if you’re onboard the aircraft.
The trick to having a smooth flight with your psychiatric service dog or pet on a flight with Delta is preparation. You should make sure you have submitted any required documents and understand the rules applicable to your animal. While this article can be a helpful guide, it is not a complete explanation of Delta’s rules and you should confirm Delta’s current policies when booking your flight, as their rules can and do change from time to time.
Qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog Letter Online.
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