Delta Airlines’ Policy Change Concerning Animal Travel

Looks like it may be a good time to travel with your emotion support animal. On March 1 of this year, Delta changed their pet traveling policy. Owners will no longer have to check their pets in as checked luggage, but rather, there are two options that owners have to choose from: in-flight or Delta cargo.

This policy update comes on the information released by the Department of Transportation which paints a not-so-pretty picture of animal safety in the check-in storage of commercial flights. Last year alone, there were reported to be 63 animal fatalities from those that were checked-in. If we count the past decade, Delta had a total number of 76 animal deaths, highest of any US airline. Last year, Delta had 18 animal-related instances.

A lot of these problems are mostly not related to the animal being mishandled, but rather the conditions that the animal has to endure when in travel. When in flight, the cargo hold of a flight may dip to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty cold temperature for human standards. Add that to the lowered oxygen present in the air or the cramped conditions, and you can think of the disastrous things that may occur to your pets.

As stated in the introductory paragraph, Delta has taken steps to prevent animal related incidents from occurring. One of the options that Delta offers is the chance to bring your animal on board with you for the duration of the flight. There are a few things to remember when bringing your pet with you in the cabin.

The basics for travel are to own a kennel to keep your pet in, to contact your airline, and to bring proper documentation for your animal. You need a kennel that meets by the U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, which are readily available at local pet stores for purchase. You need to contact the airline to give them the information that you will be traveling with your companion and pay any necessary fees that may be required. Bring the required documents to ensure that your pet is able to travel with you.

In traveling with your emotional support animal, the airline should not charge you a fee for your companion through the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. If you bring along all the required documentation, ones that note you need an ESA through a letter by a licensed medical professional, on that shows the health of your pet, one that links your pets to you as an ESA, etc. To view all the required documentation, visit the airlines webpage beforehand and check to see what you need.

The second option that you may have as a traveler is through Delta Cargo. There are instances where trying to have your emotional support animal fly with you in the cabin may not work, such as having an animal that is too large for the required kennel limits or have a temperamental animal in strange locations. Delta introduced this mode of travel for your pet which is different from just checking your pet into the cargo hold of an airplane.

The biggest thing to take away from Delta Cargo is that it is not merely the cargo hold from the airplane, but rather a shipping service that is specifically catered to transport your animal. Delta is employing trained animal handlers to look after your animals and give them proper care when they are not in your presence.

There are some drawbacks to this though. There is no guarantee that the animal that you have cent on Cargo is not guaranteed to be on the same flight schedule as you. There is a pretty hefty fee to having your animal fly. You must make all the arrangements pretty close your actual travel date. If you are flying internationally, you may have to register yourself as a trusted animal shipper, which you could find through International Pet and Animal Transportation Association. All of these may not be the easiest or cheapest of options, but if you really want to send your animal, this may be the safest way to go.

You can review all the changes to Delta’s animal handling policy at their website. Also, you may refer back to an earlier article in which we discussed things to keep in mind if you plan on traveling with your emotional support animal.