Admit it, you kind of love the stories: Someone tries to bring a hedgehog onto a flight, or a Great Dane, or a llama, and claim they're emotional support animals. The juxtaposition of creature and cabin is almost always absurd in the abstract. When you're in the middle of it, though, it gets a lot less funny.
Delta Airlines just announced stringent restrictions on which animals are allowed in the passenger portion of its airplanes. Fliers who have previously brought snakes, turkeys, miniature potbellied pigs, or anything else that's not a specially trained service dog are out of luck. Even those with legitimate disabilities requiring the presence of an on-duty canine aren't getting off lightly. Passengers will have to file extra paperwork 48 hours before their flight, before every single flight.
Animal lovers do have reason to worry about flying their pets in the hold of an airline. Multiple reports of animals dying in a plane's cargo hold have made headlines over the years, usually due to extreme cold or oxygen deprivation. However, other passengers on the plane have had to endure pets that hadn't been trained for flying, leading to accidents, disruptive noise, escape attempts, and even attacks.
If you need to travel by air with a pet, you are in a bind. You might need to make a decision between a cargo hold and driving a car. But pets need extensive training to be properly classified as assistance animals, much less to cope with the stress of flying. Consult your doctor if you want to know more about what's required of a service dog and how one could help you. Otherwise, if you're still set on flying Delta, it may be time to fire up pet-sitting app Rover instead.