Delta has announced that it is going to tighten its standards for allowing people to fly with “comfort animals.” Speaking as a frequent business traveler who recently saw a dog take a dump right in the middle of the concourse of the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood airport — which faces a lot of other challenges, including being, consistently, one of the most crowded and unpleasant airports around — I applaud Delta’s stand.
Delta believes that the influx of “comfort animals” is getting out of hand, and reports that there have been incidents in which the animals have exhibited aggressive behavior, including growling and biting, have fouled airport terminals like the incident I witnessed, and have even attacked a passenger. The Delta statement also said that passengers “have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders [pictured above], snakes, spiders and more.” Now Delta will require that passengers seeking to bring animals on board present evidence of the animals’ good health and vaccinations, sign a document confirming that their animals can behave in a closed airplane cabin, and presumably demonstrate that they really need to have the animals board the plane with them in the first place.
I’ve got no problem, of course, with visually impaired people using guide dogs, which are always well behaved, but I agree with another statement that Delta made: “Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.” The reality is that people are pushing the envelope with their animals, just as people are pushing the envelope in claiming “disabilities” that entitle them to board before the rest of us. Anyone who has traveled much recently has seen the explosion of animals in airports, and I’m confident that most people have witnessed unpleasant incidents like the one I saw, or had to endure barking dogs while waiting for a delayed plane, or watched two “comfort” dogs growling at each other at a gate.
I’m a big fan of dogs, but they really don’t belong in airports, or in the passenger compartments of airplanes. And that goes double for “comfort turkeys,” gliding possums, spiders, snakes, and the rest of the modern airport zoo.