UPDATE, September 27, 2019: Although the Department of Transportation released a statement earlier this year stating that Delta’s “pit bull” ban was in violation of their regulations, the airline has doubled down and is holding the ban firmly in place.
This decision doesn’t make any scientific sense either. According to hard science, there is no inherent difference between one dog and another dog. All dogs are individuals. For Delta to single out dogs based on an arbitrary label is a practice based entirely around a fallacy.
It’s also against both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).
The ACAA states that all service animals must be permitted except if they:
– Are too large or heavy to be accommodated in the cabin
– Pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others
– Cause a significant disruption of cabin service
– Are prohibited from entering a foreign country
“The enhancements include introducing a limit of one emotional support animal per customer per flight and no longer accepting pit bull type dogs as service or support animals. These updates, which come as the peak summer travel season is underway, are the direct result of growing safety concerns following recent incidents in which several employees were bitten.”
It’s terrible that people were bitten by dogs on a plane. It’s also terrible that many break the law and commit fraud by faking a disability so that they can bring their pet on a plane. These two things are likely connected.
What isn’t connected is what this has to do with “pit bull” dogs or why it should result in the further discrimination of people with service dogs.
While it’s tempting to say “don’t like it, don’t do business with them,” we need to look deeper. Sure, people can fly on another airline, but why can’t they fly Delta? Because Delta is discriminating against them. We aren’t comfortable letting discrimination stand and you shouldn’t be either.
Not only is Delta being discriminatory, they’re also breaking ACAA regulations. As we mentioned, there’s nothing in the regulations that permits the airline to deny “pit bull” dogs (or whatever label someone subjectively wants to assign to them) as service dogs. We’ve contacted Delta and the Department of Transportation for more details so that we can help them develop non-discriminatory solutions, but we have not heard back.
If you have been discriminated against by an airline, you can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation.
The DOT is considering making revisions to the Air Carrier Access Act. They are requesting comments from the public prior to making any changes. You can leave your thoughtful comment on regulations.gov before July 9, 2018.
Below are some bullet points to help you draft your response:
- The purpose of accessibility policies to make the world accessible to everyone. Policies banning dogs who look a certain way creates a more inaccessible world.
- Delta’s new policy discriminates against people with disabilities.
- There is no standard definition of what makes a dog a “pit bull” or a “bull type.” These are arbitrary terms based on
subjectivevisual identification. They have no basis in science.
- In fact, science says visual identification of dogs is highly inaccurate.
- Research shows that looks don’t equal behavior. Genetics are only part of what makes a dog who they are.
- All dogs are individuals and we must view them as such.