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Effective immediately, Delta is discontinuing its 8-hour flight limit for emotional support animals (ESAs).

The policy change comes on the heels of U.S. Department of Transportation guidance regarding service and support animals. After working with the DOT and cross-divisional business groups, Delta was able to develop a solution to protect the health and safety of those onboard while also allowing ESAs to fly on longer flights.

Following a sharp increase in onboard animal incidents and attacks, Delta instituted its ban on pit bulls in 2018, to protect the airline’s employees, customers and trained service animals. Pit bulls account for less than 5 percent of the overall dog population but 37.5 percent of vicious dog attacks. Understanding this risk, Delta has not come to a solution for allowing pit bulls onboard that satisfies its own rigorous safety requirements.

“We will never compromise on safety, and we will do what is right for the health and safety of our customers and employees,” said John Laughter, Senior Vice President – Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance. “We continue to work with the DOT to find solutions that support the rights of customers who have legitimate needs to travel with trained animals.”

Delta continuously reviews and enhances its policies and procedures for animals onboard as part of its commitment to customer and employee safety.

“The safety of our people is paramount. In 2018 alone, more than 40 instances of aggressive animal behavior occurred aboard a Delta aircraft,” said Allison Ausband, Senior Vice President – In-Flight Service. “Our 25,000 flight attendants are my greatest responsibility, and I will do everything I can to keep them safe and send them home to their families in the same condition they came to work.”