Delta Emotional Support Animal Policy

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By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: April 6, 2021

delta airlines esa policy

Traveling with your emotional support animal on Delta Airlines can be easy and hassle-free! If you’re a person looking to travel with Delta Airlines, either with your pet or your furry emotional support buddy, then make sure you know the rules, regulations, and the crucial forms you must have to travel with them.

Please note, as of January 11, 2021, under new regulations passed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the allowance of Emotional Support Animals onboard flights may vary from airline to airline.

And according to the Delta Airlines website, “Delta will only accept  Trained Service Animals that are dogs regardless of breed…Customers will not be permitted to book new travel with an Emotional Support Animal. Customers who wish to travel with a pet may do so according to Delta’s Pet Travel Policy.”

Bring And Fill Out The Required ESA Documents/Forms

Before you can board a Delta Airlines aircraft, it is vital for you to familiarize yourself with the Delta Airlines ESA policy important information.

Emotional Support Animal Letter (Medical/Mental Health Professional Form)

While Delta Airlines ESA policy now recognizes emotional support animals as only pets, you are not required to bring your ESA letter. However, it never hurts!

Take the 5-minute screening to see if you qualify today.

Veterinary Health Form

A signed Veterinary Health Form is not necessary for pets and emotional support animals ensuring they have been vaccinated and are registered at the vet. But like your emotional support animal letter, there’s nothing stopping you from bringing it to the airport.

Certification of the Animal’s Health (including rabies and DRB shot verification)

Before 2021, your emotional support animal was required to submit all vaccination records to Delta Airlines in which you can get from the vet.

But now, your pet or ESA does not need this documentation.

Signed Testament to the Animal’s Behavior

A signed testament to the animal’s behavior was in place to make traveling comfortable for all passengers. Delta Airlines ESA policy required passengers traveling with ESAs to show proof that their emotional support dog, cat, etc. will be able to behave properly whilst in a public situation.

And while you no longer need that when traveling with your ESA, do know your emotional support animal does not have to be professionally trained, unlike service animals. So make sure they follow rules and know the basic commands or problems will arise.

ESA Policy Delta Airlines: Pet Fees

It is important to remember that both psychiatric service animals and service animals can travel in a cabin at no cost. However, the same does not apply to pets and, as of 1/11/2021, emotional support animals. While your household pet is more than welcomed to travel with Delta Airlines, there are fees.

delta airlines emotional support animal policy

Dogs, cats, and yes even your household bird can travel with passengers on Delta Air! In fact, your pet can travel with you in the aircraft cabin, just like a service and support animal!

The cost of traveling with a pet in a cabin is as follows:

  • $125 USD/CAD per pet to and from U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico
  • $200 USD/CAD/EUR per pet to the Virgin Islands/anywhere outside the U.S.
  • $75 USD per pet to Brazil

A List of ESAs and Pets That are Not Permitted on Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines allows a variety of animal species to board their plane. However, according to the Delta Airlines Pet Policy, the following animals are not permitted to board the flight but as checked baggage.

  • Hedgehogs
  • Ferrets
  • Insects
  • Rodents
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Sugar gliders
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Goats
  • Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game bird, & birds of prey)
  • Animals improperly cleaned and/or with a foul odor
  • Animals with tusks, horns or hooves

As for cargo hold: “Due to changing flight schedules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta Cargo will temporarily embargo all PET shipments effective April 1, 2020, until further notice.”

Breed Restrictions

If you’ve got a psychiatric service animal or emotional support animal then it’s important to know what dog and cat breeds are permitted on Delta Airlines.

For example, on July 10, 2018, a regulation went into effect that banned all “pitbull type” dogs from onboarding as assistance animals or pets. And according to the Delta Airlines ESA policy, the following snub-nosed dogs and snub-nosed cats, are restricted on the flight.

  • American Bulldog
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffin
  • Bulldog
  • Chinese Pug
  • Chow Chow
  • Dutch Pug
  • English Bulldog
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • French Bulldog
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Japanese Boxer
  • Japanese Pug
  • Japanese Spaniel (Chin)
  • Mastiff (all breeds)
  • Pekinese
  • Pit Bull
  • Pug
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel

Snub-nosed cats

  • Burmese
  • Exotic
  • Himalayan
  • Persian

ACAA and ESAs: What You Need to Know!

The Air Carrier Access Act was passed in 1990 and works alongside the Department of Transportation rules prohibiting discrimination against disabled individuals traveling by air.

According to the Air Carrier Act provisions, airlines are not allowed to refuse transportation, limit, or require advanced notice before offering service to individuals who are disabled.

However, the Department of Transportation announced as of January 11, 2021, emotional support animals are no longer protected as assistance animals on flights. As stated by the DOT, this new law “allows airlines to recognize emotional support animals as pets, rather than service animals.”

And while this new regulation is in place, it does not mean it’s right. For example…

“If the individual has PTSD and doesn’t have the luxury of being gifted a service dog, or can’t afford the costs of obtaining a service dog which can run upwards of $50,000, then their PTSD doesn’t qualify or isn’t valid. That’s textbook discrimination on several levels.” says Prairie Conlon, LPC, NPC & CertaPet’s Clinical Director

We are continuing to explore and consider all legal options to help protect the rights of individuals dealing with mental health disabilities. 

Know Delta Airlines Pet Carrier Requirements!

delta airlines pet carrier requirements

Get the Delta Airlines ESA Policy Guide

Delta Airlines takes holds both pet safety and comfort to the highest priority. So, to make air travel a lot more smooth, Delta Airlines has created a set of guidelines for both pet and ESA owners.

If you’re traveling emotional support dog/other animal in the cabin (aka as a carry-on luggage), your ESA must be placed in:

  • Option A: a soft-sided kennel
  • Option B: a hard-sided kennel

All kennels need to be:

    • leak proof
    • ventilated (On 2 sides)
    • Need to meet ‘under the seat dimensions

What’s Acceptable

Based on the Delta Airlines Pet Policy, here are the acceptable kennel sizes for animals:

  • Small: 21 x 15 x 16 inches
  • Medium 1: 27 x 20 x 19 inches
  • Medium 2: 32 x 22 x 23 inches
  • Large: 36 x 24 x 26 inches
  • Extra Large: 40 x 27 x 30 inches
  • Giant: 48 x 32 x 35 inches

Delta Airlines states that:

  • Kennels need to be spacious for animals—animals head (ear included) must not touch the top of the kennel.
  • Animals need to be able to stand erect, lie down, and turn around when in a kennel.
  • The kennel needs to have a solid top and needs to be ventilated.
  • The kennel needs to have food and water dishes (empty).
  • The kennels need to contain towels, blankets, or any absorbent material.

What’s Restricted

The Delta Airlines ESA policy does prohibit the following kennels and carriers:

  • Any carrier that is made of welded mesh, wire mesh, wicker, cardboard, and collapsible material
  • Carriers that have doors that open from the top may be restricted
  • Carriers that have plastic front doors, side doors or latches that secure the top half of the kennel with the bottom half of the kennel.

“Where Does My ESA Go Once I’m on the Plane?”

According to the Delta Airlines ESA policy guide and pet policy, your furry friend can join you in the aircraft cabin for a fee (see prices above). While in the aircraft cabin, they should be seated either on your lap or below your seat.

Emotional support animals are not allowed to block the aisles of the aircraft, take up a passenger’s seat, or disrupt other passengers.

Prepare Your ESA for Flight!

Traveling with your furry friend can be really fun and more importantly, help your anxiety and keep you calm. But, as a responsible ESA owner, you need to make sure you do your part to keep your ESA well-trained during the flight.

Teach Your Dog The Proper Behavior When in Public and on the Airplane

Like all other airlines, Delta ESA policy (just like Delta Pet Policy) has the right to reject your emotional support animal should they believe that your ESA has the potential to cause harm to others, display aggressive behavior, or irritate other passengers (barking dogs).

While they don’t require specific training, it is advised you train your ESA to “get-used-to” their surroundings and be comfortable when in stressful public situations. Make sure your emotional support animal knows the basic commands such as sit, stay, and keep quiet!

Importantly, make sure your ESA (if a dog) knows how to walk properly on a leash.

They’re There For Your Comfort, Not Disturbance

An emotional support animal is there for your sanity! So, apart from very basic training, it’s quite important that you make sure your ESA is not going to cause you or others around you trouble. Generally, bigger ESAs—like Great Danes, Dobermans, or other large breed dogs, may be quite difficult to travel with due to their size so we recommend you speak to Delta Airlines on how they can properly accommodate a large ESA.

Are You Traveling Internationally? Check Out Location-Specific Resources to See If Your ESA is Allowed

Sometimes traveling restrictions may apply with an emotional support animal. This is particularly true when passengers choose to travel internationally. When traveling internationally, restrictions may apply depending on the country of destination. So, don’t forget to read up on any pet quarantine procedures, restrictions, and import laws.

For more information about pets and ESAs traveling internationally, check out:

  • Pets and International—U.S Department of State
  • U.S. Domestic & International Pet Travel: Delta Air Lines
  • International Travel with Your Pet—CDC


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