According to Delta’s upcoming new requirements for service and emotional support animals, only Very Good Girls and Boys are allowed.
The airline announced in a press release on Friday that all owners must provide proof of their animal’s vaccinations or other health records 48 hours before traveling. They must also sign a document attesting that their animal is well-behaved—although no proof of training is required. A Delta spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo that to prove their animal is well-behaved, a customer can sign a form available on the airline’s website.
Delta noted that the new regulations, which will go into effect on March 1st, aim to create safer flights without negatively impacting passengers with legitimate needs. The airline noted that it recorded “an 84 percent increase in reported animal incidents since 2016” and that staffers had reported an uptick in acts of aggression last year. The Associated Press reports that one incident included a support dog repeatedly biting another passenger in the face.
“The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel,” John Laughter, Delta’s senior vice president of corporate safety, security, and compliance, said a statement.
Even passengers with documented needs aren’t allowed to bring certain animals on board, even if they are proven healthy and Very Good. The list of impermissible animals, according to Delta’s Service and Support Animals page, includes: hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes and other reptiles, amphibians, spiders, sugar gliders, goats, non-household birds, smelly and dirty animals, and “animals with tusks, horns, or hooves.”
According to Delta, the new rules aren’t intended to make it more difficult for those with real emotional needs and medical issues to bring their service and support animals on flights. It’s already illegal for airlines to charge passengers fees for either service and emotional support animals as long as they don’t take up space in aisles or emergency evacuation areas, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Rather, the new regulations aim to ensure that people with misbehaved or dangerous animals aren’t creating an unsafe environment while also making it harder for people who may take advantage of lenient regulations to bring their pets onboard.