The Seeing Eye’s Response to Delta Airlines Service Animal Policy

Many of you have contacted The Seeing Eye with concerns about Delta’s new service animal policy. The new requirements, effective March 1, call for disabled passengers to take several steps before they will be allowed to fly with a service animal. These steps include uploading proof of rabies and distemper vaccinations to the Delta web site on an annual basis, and requiring passengers to report to the check-in counter for verification each time they go to the airport.

The Seeing Eye recognizes that all airlines must establish practical and reasonable policies as part of ongoing efforts to keep passengers safe. However, we believe that Delta’s new service animal policy compromises the rights of guide dog handler’s to fly free from discrimination.

In response to Delta’s new policy, and the likelihood that, if left unchallenged, other airlines will quickly adopt similar requirements, The Seeing Eye has submitted the below complaint to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division at the U.S. Department of Transportation:

“Passengers with guide dogs should be able to complete check-in online, at a kiosk or curbside, just like anyone else. Instead, Delta’s new policy requires these passengers to “Visit the airport check-in counter”, where the disabled passenger’s “request will be verified at the airport by a Delta Representative.” This is an undue burden and a serious inconvenience for blind passengers — especially when traveling with family, friends or business colleagues who prefer to check-in curbside or who have already secured advance boarding passes. This practice violates the disabled passenger’s right to choose what check-in process works best for his/her individual circumstances, and will likely force passengers to depend on Delta representatives or others for additional assistance that they might not otherwise require. Moreover, segregating blind passengers from their traveling companions or other non-disabled passengers simply to enforce compliance with a vaccination requirement that is already mandated by most state laws is degrading and cause for considerable humiliation, embarrassment, and loss of dignity.
The 48-hour advance notice seems to preclude last minute or emergency travel if the trip is the passenger’s first flight of the renewal year.
The policy fails to address what will happen when other airlines need to reschedule disabled passengers onto Delta flights if those passengers do not have the required documentation for their service animals.”

Graduates who are concerned about this new policy are encouraged to submit their own comments describing any negative impact on air travel on Delta by completing the complaint form at:

https://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm

If your only means of contacting the Division is by phone, you may leave a message at (202) 366-2220.

To read more about Delta’s new service animal policy, visit:

https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/special-travel-needs/service-animals.html

Sincerely,

Ginger Bennett Kutsch
Advocacy Specialist
The Seeing Eye, Inc.
Morristown, New Jersey
(973) 539-4425
http://www.seeingeye.org

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