Until we know what really happened on that Delta flight a couple days ago (and even when we do), if you want to know what rules the airlines are operating with, I can’t think of a better resource than my podcast about the Air Carrier Access Act from back in September 2016:
I can (and already have) come up with a whole list of questions that need to be asked and answered about this incident, but with all the civil and maybe even criminal litigation that’s likely pending, it could be a while before we have some definitive answers. So far all I’ve seen is a bunch of stories with the same sketchy details all based on the same original sources.
What you can do right now, though, is get smart on the ACAA that governs emotional support and service animals on airlines, something that was missing in all the stories I saw about this incident.
Listen to this short 20 minute podcast and read the associated post and you will know more than 99% of everybody about this subject, including most of those who’ve had so much to say about this incident.
One other important update that I alluded to in this podcast and have talked about since. The ACAA negotiated regulation process was unable to achieve a consensus with the airlines, as so many of us feared would happen, and, as a result, the Department of Transportation had said they would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). All of that occurred prior to the presidential election, and so it was all put on hold pending the transition – I’ve heard nothing about it.
This incident may well place some renewed emphasis on that subject – let’s hope so.
Update 6/8/17. As I figured, the person who was bitten has retained legal counsel, and his attorney released a statement today along with some fairly graphic photos of his injuries.
Let me just add what I think is an obvious statement, but I will make anyway. While I recognize there are always multiple sides to a story, regardless of what different versions of events there might be here, this is a zero tolerance issue. We simply cannot have anyone bitten by a dog like this, and we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from happening again.
And, also to be very clear, I’m not talking about this particular dog and what should happen with it – I don’t know the answer to that and I’m not focused there. I’m talking about the much broader issue that goes way beyond one dog or even just the ACAA. The whole concept of standards, the safety of the public, where someone gets a dog, and so on – the very things I’ve been talking about here for years.
This may not be the worst case scenario, but it’s pretty close. The very kind of incident many of us have feared happening where everybody loses – the person who was attacked, the person with the dog, the dog, the public – you name it. Except maybe the attorneys who’ll get paid.
My concern is that this will be dismissed by some as a “one off” incident, something that hasn’t happened before (as far as we know), and so it’s not time to take a hard look – finally – at how we do business under not only the ACAA but the ADA as well. I don’t want to see us overreact, either, but when is enough enough? What’s an acceptable number of incidents like this?
I think we know the answers to both those questions. We need to fix this, and now.