The National Federation of the Blind stated the following with regard to the new service and support animal policy announced by Delta Air Lines on January 19:
We are deeply concerned that Delta Air Lines has taken this action without consulting the National Federation of the Blind, our division the National Association of Guide Dog Users, or any other democratically elected representative of blind Americans.
Blind people have safely and successfully used guide dogs for decades, but this policy fails to make a clear or practical distinction among guide dogs, other “service and support animals” (as Delta puts it), and pets.
Onerous restrictions on guide dog handlers do not resolve anything and violate the principle of equal access for passengers with disabilities. Furthermore, we believe that elements of Delta’s policy, as currently articulated, violate the Air Carrier Access Act.
We are particularly troubled by the requirement that guide dog users submit paperwork to Delta forty-eight hours before flying. Travelers without guide dogs are not required to plan their travel forty-eight hours in advance.
Furthermore, guide dog users will no longer be able to fly Delta in family, medical, or other emergencies.
We believe that this forty-eight hour requirement is both unnecessary and unlawful.
We are asking for an urgent meeting with Delta and stand ready to work with it and other airlines to craft fair and reasonable policies to address the concerns of air carriers, their personnel, and their passengers, without imposing undue, unsupported, and unlawful hardships on guide dog users.