Service dog taking up whole row

Old Aug 24, 18, 5:48 pm
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Service dog taking up whole row

So this exact thing happened to me today. And to be honest given all the recent attention to ESA and service animals (and Delta even changing rules about onboard animals) Iím surprised and quite frankly very disappointed in Delta about this. I will be writing into DL and posting their response.

Flew a MD90 and was in aisle bulkhead in F. Pax who is window brings a large German Shepard as a service animal on the plane and sits window. Dog has service animal vest and some sort of service animal ID (to be honest type of animal isnít relevant). Dog is so big that it spans the entire row and takes up most of my foot space. I ask the pax with dog to please move her dog as I donít want to kick or step on itís paws. She modestly tries to move the dog but it doesnít make a difference and tells me ďthatís the problem, thereís no room.Ē (apparently the space issue is either my fault or the plane designers)

As the flight is already delayed and completely full, I decide not to make a fuss. However the rest of the flight the dog is in my space. Even with me trying to put my feet in the aisle and hold it close to the seat, the dog is on my feet or touching my legs.

The pax (minus her ďnot my faultĒ comment) was polite and dog was well-trained (though it did lick me a few times). When I asked the FAís in the galley about this they simply apologized and said the only recourse they have would be to reseat me or her.

Iím sure a few dog owners would tell me to just put up with it and chill out, but thatís not the point. Iím not going to get into the debate of whether I should love dogs like you do. My point is that Delta should not have allowed this situation to occur. It is not right to put the burden on other pax (in this situation me) nor even on the flight crew, it should be handled pre-board via policy and subsequent enforcement.

While I was agreeable to the dog, had it been another pax that say doesnít like animals, is allergic to them, or worse say afraid of large dogs - should it be their burden to slow down an already delayed flight and probably be reseated in coach from their F seat? No doubt any commotion will be videotaped and who wants to end up on social media? What if it was someone that accidentally kicked or stepped on the dog and then was subsequently bit. Iím no lawyer but in my mind this is something brewing.

Whike I survived the flight fine, Iím disappointed in Delta for not being better about this. And while I have nothing personal against the other pax, it is people like this that ruin the reputation of responsible pet owners and make me less favorable to those who have service animals.

Anyway, while I wait for DL to respond I would like to hear the FT community thoughts.
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Old Aug 24, 18, 6:18 pm
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"Anyway, while I wait for DL to respond I would like to hear the FT community thoughts."

Traveling brings many challenges. I guess maybe my first thought would be, how fortunate I am that I do not need a service animal.
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Old Aug 24, 18, 6:20 pm
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You need to write to your elected representatives who passed the law requiring airlines to accommodate ESA animals. 98% of them are fraudulent but the airlines don’t have recourse unless the law changes. Did anyone mention the nature of the passengers disability? Here is the tests that should be met.

1) Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability — i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?

(2) Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person's existing disability?
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Old Aug 24, 18, 6:32 pm
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Unfortunately Delta's hand is forced by the gov't here. While carriers aren't required to carry an animal that doens't fit under one seat, the interpretation of the law by DOT in 2009 confused things by putting the onus on an in-cabin resolution, rather than a pre-boarding resolution to handle animals too large to fit in front of one seat.

Delta can ask other passengers if they are willing to share space with the animal in the same cabin. If there are none, then as the last resort they can ask the animal owner to take a different flight. But the onus to complain is on the passenger seated adjacent.

https://cms.dot.gov/sites/dot.gov/fi..._5_13_09_2.pdf


"What should airline personnel do if a passenger with a disability is accompanied in the airplane cabin by a service animal that does not fit in the space immediately in front of the passenger and there is no other seat in the cabin with sufficient space to safely accommodate the animal?

Answer: If a service animal does not fit in the space immediately in front of the accompanying passenger with a disability and there is no other seat with sufficient space to safely accommodate the animal and its partner (i.e., user), there are several options to consider for accommodating the service animal in the cabin in the same class of service. The carrier should speak with other passengers to find a passenger in an adjacent seat who is willing to share foot space with the animal, or a passenger in a seat adjacent to a location where the service animal can be accommodated (e.g., in the space behind the last row of seats) or adjacent to an empty seat, who is willing to exchange seats with the service animal’s partner. As noted in the preamble to our rule, there are probably no circumstances in which the purchase of a second seat would be necessary to accommodate the service animal. If a class of service on a flight is totally filled, there would not be any seat available for purchase. If the class of service had even one middle seat unoccupied, the passenger with a service animal could be seated next to the vacant seat. It is likely that even a large animal (e.g., Great Dane) could use some of the floor space of the vacant seat, making any further purchase by the passenger unnecessary. Only if there is no alternative available to enable the passenger to travel with the service animal in the cabin on that flight should the carrier offer options such as transporting the service animal in the cargo hold or transportation on a later flight with more room. When transportation on a later flight is offered, carriers are strongly encouraged, but not required by Part 382, to allow any passenger who wishes to rebook on a different flight to the same destination and on the same airline to do so at the same fare."

There is a fresh look at the rules happening right now. And the airlines' lobbying group wants DOT to make clear airlines have the right (already in the law) to refuse transport of animals that don't fit under the seat, which would open up the doors to resolving before boarding:

https://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?documentId=DOT-OST-2018-0067-0093&attachmentNumber=1&contentType=pdf

"It is self-evident that it would “fundamentally alter” the service provided to the adjacent passenger to deprive that passenger of his/her foot space and obligate or pressure the passenger to share the space with an unfamiliar animal and the need to even make such an inquiry places airline agents and flight attendants in an uncomfortable position. DOT, in clarifying in its Final Statement that carriers are not required to accept animals that do not fit under a single seat, should revert to guidance that existed prior to 2009. Because this is a “guidance” issue that is not contained in DOT’s regulations, DOT can and should address this issue in the Final Statement; it would be neither necessary nor appropriate to defer action on this issue until the conclusion of the rulemaking."

Hopefully things will change to better balance needs, and also reduce fraud (no evidence of that in this case - that's another discussion).

Southwest's handling of passengers of size is an interesting one. They ask them to book a second seat in advance. They then refund the cost of the second seat after travel (presumably for the agent to verify it's needed).

https://www.southwest.com/html/gener...olicy_faq.html

If there were less fraud in the system, this kind of airline initiated policy might be viable for true service animal needs.
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Last edited by cerealmarketer; Aug 24, 18 at 6:42 pm
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Old Aug 24, 18, 7:22 pm
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First, one needs to determine if the animal is a Service Animal or an Emotional Support Animal. As noted above there are rules for Service Animals that do not apply to Emotional Support Animals. If an ESA I would be much less forgiving.
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Old Aug 24, 18, 7:28 pm
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File a complaint with DOT (online form is simple and easy). This is a safety issue, not a comfort matter. If the dog is in "your" space, in an emergency you risk stepping on the dog and also being unable to brace properly for impact.

The solution is that if the dog cannot be accommodated in front of the owner, it may be that the owner must purchase 2 F seats. Nothing in the ADCA requires the carrier to make accommodations such as this for free.
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Old Aug 24, 18, 7:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Jeff767 View Post
[left]You need to write to your elected representatives who passed the law requiring airlines to accommodate ESA animals. 98% of them are fraudulent but the airlines donít have recourse unless the law changes. Did anyone mention the nature of the passengers disability? Here is the tests that should be met.
1) Why are you assuming this is an ESA?

2) the airline DOES have recourse here, the law allows them to require people to buy extra seats if the passenger and their dog doesn't fit into the space allocated for a single seat.
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Old Aug 24, 18, 7:51 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyingUnderTheRadar View Post
First, one needs to determine if the animal is a Service Animal or an Emotional Support Animal.
No you don't. There's literally no difference for the purposes of the complaint the OP has. Delta simply needs to require this passenger to buy two seats.
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Old Aug 24, 18, 8:10 pm
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Originally Posted by pvn View Post
No you don't. There's literally no difference for the purposes of the complaint the OP has. Delta simply needs to require this passenger to buy two seats.
Well, yes there is a difference. The level of training. A service dog is highly trained. They have been exposed to every type of environment and is trained to be unflappable no matter the situation. An ESA likely has no training at all, and if a fake ESA, almost certainly has none. It could be the difference between being bitten or worse, especially if one happens to inadvertently step on or bump the dog. It would sure make a difference to me in how I approached the situation.
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Old Aug 24, 18, 8:20 pm
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The problem here is that the service dog was in the bulkhead. There is no room for the dog to go! My dad has a Seeing Eye dog and Delta always tries to put us in the bulkhead. We have to call to request to be moved to a non-bulkhead row because the dog is trained to sit in the space under the seat in front.
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Old Aug 24, 18, 9:21 pm
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Originally Posted by pvn View Post
1) Why are you assuming this is an ESA?

2) the airline DOES have recourse here, the law allows them to require people to buy extra seats if the passenger and their dog doesn't fit into the space allocated for a single seat.
The law says they do but my understanding reading the request from Airlines 4 America is the enforcer (DOT) muddled things in 2009 by offering guidance that implied an in cabin accoodation request with other passengers should be made first.

Theyíre trying to get that clarified - Iím guessing theyíd love to charge for the second seat more often.


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Old Aug 24, 18, 9:38 pm
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Originally Posted by Finkface View Post
Well, yes there is a difference. The level of training. A service dog is highly trained.
That's often true but there are no training requirements for service dogs. There's no test required by law for a sufficient level of training.
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Old Aug 25, 18, 1:09 am
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Originally Posted by pvn View Post
1) Why are you assuming this is an ESA?

2) the airline DOES have recourse here, the law allows them to require people to buy extra seats if the passenger and their dog doesn't fit into the space allocated for a single seat.
1) The dog licked the OP. True service animals are trained not to behave this way.

2) It shouldn't be left up to the seatmate to complain and make a fuss. Airline staff should proactively solve the problem, including by insisting that the animal's owner buy a second seat on a later flight if necessary. It shouldn't have been the OP's burden.
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Old Aug 25, 18, 1:54 am
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Transporting pets long distances is always tough. The choice is either to fake a service dog, have it fly as cargo, or drive. Many pet owners don't want their pets in cargo. I know quite a few people who choose to drive their pets even as far as NYC to LA rather than subject them to the cargo hold.
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Old Aug 25, 18, 2:08 am
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Originally Posted by nd2010 View Post
Transporting pets long distances is always tough. The choice is either to fake a service dog, have it fly as cargo, or drive. Many pet owners don't want their pets in cargo. I know quite a few people who choose to drive their pets even as far as NYC to LA rather than subject them to the cargo hold.
Only the first of these three choices is fraudulent; it's not the only option. Plus, you're forgetting that the pet can always be left at home with a pet sitter or in one of the very fancy kennels/doggy spas that are popping up near airports and in cities (as an extension of doggy day care). For short trips, some pets such as cats can simply be happily left home alone with attention to food/water/entertainment/etc.
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