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Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Response to Delta Airlines Service Dog Policy

Monday January 29, 2018

Theresa Stern, Vice President of Outreach, Admissions, and Alumni Services, sits with her yellow Lab guide dog Wills on an airplane.

UPDATE 2.26.18

GDB is pleased that Delta Airlines has reconsidered its travel policies. Below is a letter our CEO Christine Benninger shared with our alums regarding the airline’s change in policy.

Dear GDB Alumni,

I am pleased to report that Delta Airlines has made positive changes to their policy on traveling with trained service animals. Here is a link to the announcement on their website.…

To summarize the revisions, it appears that when flying with your trained service dog on a Delta flight you will need to carry your dog’s vaccination record on your person, which needs to be current within one year of your travel date. They have removed the requirement to download special paperwork 48 hours prior to travel. They do still encourage you to download your vaccination record or vet health certificate prior to travel, but this is NO LONGER A REQUIREMENT. Persons with trained service dogs are now also able to check in via, the Fly Delta mobile app, airport kiosks, or with an airport agent. The more stringent regulations for emotional support animals (ESAs) remain unchanged.

I want to thank each and every one of you who let your voice be heard on this issue, you made a difference!

Very Best,

Christine Benninger President and CEO Guide Dogs for the Blind

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As you know, last Friday Delta Airlines announced changes to their policy for customers traveling with Service Animals.  As promised, we are following up with you to share our official position and action plan.  

Guide Dogs for the Blind understands the airlines’ desire to address the ever increasing challenges presented by passengers flying with animals and falsely representing them as Service Animals.  Guide Dogs for the Blind believes that these animals who have not been trained to behave appropriately in public pose a threat to the safety of guide dog teams and other passengers. However, it is the position of Guide Dogs for the Blind that the proposed policy change at Delta is in direct violation of the Air Carrier Access Act. The new regulations are discriminatory in nature and cause an undue hardship on individuals who are disabled and who travel with the assistance of a properly trained service dog. 

-       Requiring service dog handlers to present a health certificate for their dogs 48 hours prior to flying is discriminatory as it does not allow for last-minute or emergency travel. Further, it presents an undue hardship on the handler as no other passengers have to submit similar paperwork prior to travel.  The Air Carrier Access Act clearly states that passengers with disabilities do not need to let airlines know about their disability prior to flying.

-          Requiring persons with service dogs to check in “at the counter” is discriminatory as it does not allow equal access to all services provided by the airline including curbside and online check-in.  The Air Carrier Access Act was designed to ensure that persons with disabilities would have free and equal access to the same services as other passengers.

Further, the proposed policy does not directly address the issue of ill-behaved animals and their negative impact on the travel experience for people of all abilities. 

Guide Dogs for the Blind is requesting a meeting with Delta airlines as well as a consortium of other airlines to discuss this matter further and to help them develop a solution that does not infringe on the rights of our clients and other handlers of legitimate service animals.  If you are also concerned about this new policy we encourage you to let your voice be heard. You can file a complaint at, or by phone at : (202) 366-2220.

We will keep you posted on any further developments.

Very Best,

Christine Benninger, President & CEO

Categories: Travel

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