Service Animal?

Reply

Old Dec 7, 12, 12:56 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: VPS
Programs: DL-PM. AA,QF,UA. Every imaginable hotel program, but use Hotwire and Priceline whenever possible!
Posts: 2,341
Service Animal?

About two weeks ago on DL 397 to PVR, there was a woman sitting across the aisle from me (she was in the bulkhead row) with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever lying at her feet, occupying almost the entire space between the three seats and the bulkhead. I thought the other two people in the row were her traveling companions as they seemed to be perfectly OK with not having any place to put their feet...sometimes they held their feet up in the air; sometimes they extended them over the dog trying to reach the small amount of space between the dog and the wall. Turns out they were not with the woman at all.

During the boarding process, the dog lay there with its muzzle sticking out into the aisle. He was nearly stepped on or kicked numerous times, but fortunately all were just near misses.

I love animals, and this dog was perfectly behaved. He lay still on the floor for the entire trip and did not make a sound. The only problem with him was his size. I am not sure how I would have reacted if I had been sharing the same row...I do expect to have some place to put my feet, and if I had selected the bulkhead row so that I could have a little extra space, I would not have been happy with the situation.

I heard the woman tell someone that the airline charged her no pet-in-cabin fee since he was a service animal. I am not sure what the purpose of the dog was, but I suspect it was an "emotional support" animal, as she showed no outward sign of a physical disability. She had removed his little service jacket during the flight (I have read that for most service animals, this means that they are off-duty and can relax, but doesn't that mean that he would now be a pet-in-cabin instead of a service animal)?

Where is the line to be drawn? I do not know her specific situation, but abuse of "service animal" designation is apparently a growing problem, as I have learned from some internet research. People fake it so that they can take their animals to places that normally do not allow them.

Did you know that the ADA makes it illegal to require proof that an animal is actually a service animal? That is ridiculous, IMHO. And what if her service dog had been a Great Dane or St. Bernard? Besides on infringing on the comfort of others, there does reach a point when safety would be an issue...this dog stuck out into the aisle for most of the trip.

Any thoughts? How about from some of you who actually have service animals (and any who might pretend that their animal is a service animal)? I know some of you are going to flame me for being "insensitive" to people with disabilities, but I really am trying to start a legitimate discussion.
DLFan2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 12:59 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Atlanta, GA Hub Captive
Programs: DL GM, FL A+ Elite, WN A List
Posts: 303
I think a larger issue is going to be the 'service animal' requirement versus 'emotional support animal'... Obviously, a service animal has very specific documentation and training associated with it...I'm not so sure regarding the ESA's.
tfc3rid is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:00 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: DTW/FNT
Programs: Delta (nee NW), Hilton Diamond. IHG (PT)
Posts: 4,745
Originally Posted by DLFan2 View Post
I heard the woman tell someone that the airline charged her no pet-in-cabin fee since he was a service animal. I am not sure what the purpose of the dog was, but I suspect it was an "emotional support" animal, as she showed no outward sign of a physical disability.
We have one friend whose dog is trained to detect eplipsey seizures and her dog is very big too --- and very friendly and used to traveling.

Bob H

Last edited by BobH; Dec 7, 12 at 1:25 pm
BobH is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:12 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: BOS
Programs: DL PM, Hertz Gold Plus, SPG Gold
Posts: 1,050
So, OP, how did this situation negatively affect your flight experience?

Not that I am defending people who abuse the service animal/emotional support animal concept for their personal gain (because I am also aware of it and it disgusts me), but so long as the dog was, in your words, "perfectly behaved," it really shouldn't matter to you why that person needed to bring his or her dog on a plane, or how large said dog happened to be.

As someone already stated, people who benefit from service dogs aren't always noticeably disabled (hearing impairments, autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy), so just because someone doesn't "look" disabled doesn't automatically mean he or she is abusing the system. The dogs I spayed and neutered in my intro to surgery class were pre-service dogs (before they entered training programs), and they were almost always large dogs: Labradors, poodles, giant Schnauzers, etc.

I take much more of an issue with people who allow their "service animals" free rein to roam through plane aisles or nose people's laptops in the SkyClubs, or whose animals are outwardly noisy or aggressive when there are other people around. None of these issues should occur with a properly trained and restrained service animal.

ETA: Lots of "legitimate discussions" on this topic in the forums... and they often don't end well.
eturowski is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:13 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Programs: Delta, Starwood, Hilton
Posts: 430
Service Animal?

I have seen service animals for both people with seizures and those who are deaf. In neither case would you see any physical signs in the person who owned the animal . But they save lives. That said, my friends and acquaintances who use such animals are as careful as possible not to cause others any problems .
gungadin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:13 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Washington, D.C.
Programs: UA Premier 1K: PlAAtinum; DL SM, MM; Marriott Gold; CO Plat Emeritus; NW Plat Emeritus
Posts: 4,530
I was on a flight once and my row was shared with a blind lady and her dog. It was pretty big, but perfectly quiet and still -- and though it did take some of my legroom I had no problem under the circumstances.
Alpha Golf is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:20 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Programs: Fly Delta Jets
Posts: 99
Originally Posted by Alpha Golf View Post
I was on a flight once and my row was shared with a blind lady and her dog. It was pretty big, but perfectly quiet and still -- and though it did take some of my legroom I had no problem under the circumstances.
I sat next to a seeing eye dog pretty recently. I felt very bad for the dog. When the owner sensed the dog was starting to lie down, she grabbed the scruff to make the dog sit up. Ditto for repositioning when deplaning.

At least I had my legroom...
maestrowei is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:26 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: VPS
Programs: DL-PM. AA,QF,UA. Every imaginable hotel program, but use Hotwire and Priceline whenever possible!
Posts: 2,341
Originally Posted by eturowski View Post
So, OP, how did this situation negatively affect your flight experience?
Thank you. I knew I would get at least one of these "it did not affect you, so why do you care?" replies.

If we had had an emergency, it might well have affected me and many others. And if we had simply hit a pocket causing the AC to "fall" a couple of thousand feet, someone might well have had 80 lbs of dog come crashing down on them. The dog was in no way secured to prevent it from becoming a projectile.

The woman was not deaf or blind, and she managed to get the dog and herself down the stairs and onto the waiting bus ahead of almost everyone on arrival, so no obvious mobility problem. I suppose that leaves seizures and emotional support. She talked about taking the dog to the beach in PVR and letting it run and play with all the other dogs there, and how much it loved to swim in the ocean. So that may eliminate seizures as her problem.

I am not so much talking about this particular experience as about the basic issue, and wondering if others have had a negative or positive experience due to someone's service animal.
DLFan2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:37 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: ATL
Programs: Atlanta's hometown airline. A bunch of hotel programs. PetSmart PetPerks.
Posts: 2,529
Originally Posted by DLFan2 View Post
About two weeks ago on DL 397 to PVR, there was a woman sitting across the aisle from me (she was in the bulkhead row) with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever lying at her feet, occupying almost the entire space between the three seats and the bulkhead...
My parents had a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, he was sort of crazy, though quite adept at detecting security threats like the mail man. But I could see how one, with proper training, might become a service dog. Pat's mission was to save the world from pine cones by destroying every one he could find. I think his record was 7 in his mouth at one time. He was also addicted to bodies of water & would swim until he collapsed.

Now that our 14-year-old Lab needs a seeing eye person I'm much more sympathetic to those who require service and/or guide dogs, whether their plight is evident or not. (ETA: I am by no means making light of people who require assistance/comfort animals by bringing up my dog's blindness...simply trying to bring some levity to a topic that often becomes contentious.)

Back OT before the inevitable close...a friend who's a former Red Coat once boarded a Great Dane whose owner had seizures, or maybe fainting spells, that the dog would detect then lean against her as an alert & also so she could balance on him. IIRC she purchased an extra seat for the space needed.

Last edited by PRWeezer; Dec 7, 12 at 1:55 pm
PRWeezer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:38 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 5,643
It's covered under the Airline Access Act.

382.37 Seat assignments.

(c) If a service animal cannot be accommodated at the seat location of the qualified individual with a disability whom the animal is accompanying (see 382.55(a)(2)), the carrier shall offer the passenger the opportunity to move with the animal to a seat location, if present on the aircraft, where the animal can be accommodated, as an alternative to requiring that the animal travel with checked baggage.

382.38 Seating accommodations

(a) On request of an individual who self-identifies to a carrier as having a disability specified in this paragraph, the carrier shall provide the following seating accommodations, subject to the provisions of this section:

......

(3) For an individual traveling with a service animal, the carrier shall provide, as the individual requests, either a bulkhead seat or a seat other than a bulkhead seat.

There's some more stuff about giving notice and emergency rows, but for the most part service animals in cabin are federal rules not airline policy. The basic outline seems to be if you give them notice the airline is required to move people to accommodation you.

I've seen from time to time questions about getting split up from elderly people or children. The act also requires the airline to keep declared caregivers seated next to people declaring ADA needs.
motytrah is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:38 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: TPA
Programs: United - PG, Marriott Silver
Posts: 1,621
To me, there are two separate issues here.

The first, which has been discussed in multiple threads, relates to the laws on emotional support animals, services animals, etc. The second issue related to the responsibility of Delta, or any other company, to comply with regulations in a way that does not impact the experience of other customers.

So in the case of the OPs description, whether the dog should have legitimately allowed to be in the cabin is one thing. More importantly is the way in which the animal infringed on the legroom of the other pax in that row. If the dog interfered with these pax legroom, then, IMO, the needs of one pax were met at the expense of others. These pax may not have cared; or they may not have felt comfortable saying anything. I frequently see the same issue with pax of size. Almost all of us are uncomfortable when our neighbor's love handles encroach into our space; but few of us are willing to say anything about it. Most just sit there unhappy.

Companies should make sure that other pax are unaffected (within reason) by accommodations made for others. If this means that an airline needs to leave an open seat, so be it. There is too much of a "let's hope they do not complain" attitude on the part of companies. And because many people do not want to be labeled as inconsiderate, cruel, or mean-spirited (some of you will think I am all of these things, based on the opinion I am expressing), they do not complain, even though their experience has been diminished so that accommodations could be made for others. To me, this is unfair.
houserulz77 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 1:39 pm
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: VPS
Programs: DL-PM. AA,QF,UA. Every imaginable hotel program, but use Hotwire and Priceline whenever possible!
Posts: 2,341
[QUOTE= IIRC she purchased an extra seat for the space needed.[/QUOTE]

Which would be quite reasonable.
DLFan2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 3:14 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: The SkyClub at F/G in MSP
Programs: Delta Diamond, Marriott Platinum
Posts: 92
My husband and son are VERY allergic to animals. My son's reactions range from the standard sneezing and watery eyes all the way to vomiting and trouble breathing. The airline policies don't seem to take that into account. If my son is stuck in an airplane with an animal (especially a long-haired animal like a Chesapeake Bay Retriever), he could get very ill. It's more than an inconvenience in that case - it's a health issue.

I'm okay with Service Animals. I'd love to see Delta provide proactive notification if a service animal is going to be in the cabin, though. In my son's case (and probably my husband's, too, but he can take care of himself), I would choose to rebook rather than subject him to the suffering. And I would expect that Delta would support that with no cost, even though my son's not a Medallion member.

As for Emotional Support Animals... I think we all know how I feel about them.
txaggie94 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 3:25 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ireland, UnderH20, AUA, WNY (ROC)
Programs: Delta Charter KM, RW, PM, SC, SkyBonus; HH Diamond, IHG Plt Amb, Global Ent, TWIC
Posts: 2,191
My daughter is active (Master Scuba Diver), a musician in a band, she is in grad school, and quite healthy except for one issue - diabetes.

She is getting a dog that can detect a dangerous low blood sugar situation. How? I have no clue.

But she would look perfectly healthy to anyone and no one would be the wiser that she is diabetic.

However, I understand that French Bull dogs can easily be trained for this. Cute and not too big!
jackplum is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 12, 3:43 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Programs: skymiles
Posts: 221
Reading all the posts here everyone seems to focus on airline policy but no one mentions DOT rules pertaining to passengers with disabilities and the DOJ (Americans with Disabilities Act ).
dlinsider is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
  • Ask a Question
    Get answers from community experts
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: