To comply with new federal guidance, Delta Air Lines is discontinuing a ban on emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours.
However, the airline is not changing its ban on pit bulls as service animals — even though the U.S. Department of Transportation issued guidance saying such a ban on a breed is not allowed.
Delta put in place the ban on pit bulls as service or support animals in 2018 after two employees were bitten by a passenger’s emotional support dog.
The DOT in a guidance document last month said it “views a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal to not be allowed under its service animal regulation,” and that airlines should not automatically prohibit service animals or emotional support animals on flights lasting eight or more hours. It said airlines had 30 days to comply.
Delta said that effective immediately, it is lifting its ban on emotional support animals on flights over eight hours, less than a year after instituting the policy.
But the airline said pit bulls account for less than 5% of the dog population and 37.5% of vicious dog attacks. “Delta has not come to a solution for allowing pit bulls onboard that satisfies its own rigorous safety requirements,” the company said in a press release.
“We will never compromise on safety, and we will do what is right for the health and safety of our customers and employees,” said Delta’s senior vice president of corporate safety, security and compliance John Laughter, Senior Vice President in a written statement. “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.”
The DOT said in its document that conforming with the guidance “is voluntary only” and that its guidance “is not legally binding in its own right and will not be relied on by the Department as a separate basis for affirmative enforcement or other administrative penalty.”
TSA testing tablets for PreCheck program
To help get more travelers signed up for the TSA PreCheck program, Transportation Security Administration officials rolled out a pilot program at a Baltimore airport that utilizes tablets to enroll passengers.
TSA agents working at Baltimore Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport used special tablets that save fingerprints and verify identification to sign up travelers for the PreCheck program wherever they are in the airport.
The long-term intention of the pilot program is to find a way to eliminate the need to make an appointment at an enrollment center. TSA officials will study whether passengers are more likely to enroll when they fly domestically or internationally or if there are certain times that travelers are more or less likely to join.
The government agency will also determine if the wait time of a given checkpoint is a factor in enrollment and if there are ways to increase the efficiency of travelers joining in the program.
Overall, the TSA is looking to increase the number of airline passengers enrolled in the program while also improving traveler satisfaction with the security process, especially for those who frequently travel.
If the pilot program is deemed a success, TSA officials will consider possible expansion of the rollout of TSA PreCheck tablet-enabled enrollment. The experiment was scheduled to conclude on Sept. 30.