One just has to ask the two questions about a Service Animal that are allowed under ADA:
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
The dog's owner must answer these two questions when asked, otherwise you are legally allowed to bar the animal entry and not violate ADA.
The task that the service animal is trained to do must be directly related to the owner’s disability.
You are not allowed to legally ask these questions if the answer is obvious (eg: blind person with a guide dog, pulling a wheelchair.)
You cannot ask:
- about the nature or extent of an individual’s disability
- to require proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal
- to require the animal to wear an identifying vest or tag
- that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the task or work
Emotional Support Animals are not supported by ADA or any other law. Delta allowing them is still by their own good graces, and I commend them for tightening up the ambiguity of admittance into black and white rules.
I thought emotional support animals had some other Federal carve out for airlines?
I've looked that up, and indeed, I was partially ill-advised. Yes, there is a section in the Air Carriers Access Act that grants so-called "Emotional Support Animals" the ability to travel with their diagnosed mentally disabled owner, uncaged and without an additional fee aboard a passenger aircraft. However, the airlines themselves are allowed to draft rules, and revise them as desired (such as Delta has done,) which set the limits and what type of documentation is required of the owners in order to allow said animal on their aircraft. Such rules and documentation may include:
- limits of only one animal per traveling party (aka, one PNR with multiple people on the itinerary may only have a single ESA allowed.)
- may require a notarized Dr's note saying why the person needs an ESA as well as valid contact information so that the airline can reach out to the issuing MD and verify the documentation before travel is permitted.
- requiring proof that the animal will not cause any disturbance of any kind to other passengers or crew during transit.
The owner assumes all fiscal responsibility for any incidents that may arise due to the animal, and sign wavers attesting to this. And, if the animal becomes a nuisance, the airline is legally allowed to take action including restraining the animal or even diverting the aircraft to remove the animal (and their owner) from the plane at the owners expense.
Capitol Corridor (too many times to count!); Coast Starlight (x21); California Zephyr (x7); Empire Builder (x2); Lake Shore Limited (x4); Maple Leaf (x1); Adirondack (x2); Cascades (x1); Pacific Surfliner (x6); San Joaquin (x8); Capitol Limited (x1); Cardinal (x2); Acela (x1)
Ocean (x4); Windsor Corridor (x2); The Canadian (x1)