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Am I wrong that this is just not OK? REG: A rant about Dogs in the Delta Sky Clubs!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

dog walking around free in Orlando MCO Sky Club at food area Renes Points blog
Dog at food area in Delta MCO Sky Club

Let me start off with a disclaimer. No, two disclaimers! The first is that I like dogs but cats are better (don’t gripe, you know I am right). The next is I kinda feel the same way about kids, that is, I like them, but grown ups are better! 🙂

With that out of the way the photo you see above was from last week’s fun run when I returned to Orlando, that is, MCO, and visited the Sky Club there. Ugg. I am just not a fan of “free range” dogs in the Sky Club and especially not so near the food service area.

I don’t care how cute the little pup is, I have an issue with non-humans near my food (well, yeah, I have issues with some humans too but that is for another post I think).

lady-with-dog-at-delta-E-skyclub-atlanta-renespoints-blog review
Dog at the ATL Sky Club

I mean I also have issues with folks HOLDING their pups like this lady at the Atlanta Sky Club that I saw on another trip a while back.

I get that these kinds of people think of their pets as part of the family but just because you love your pet, or kids for that matter, does not mean I need to share quality time with them and especially so if they are messing with food that is meant for everyone.

Beyond that I think all dogs should either be on a leash or in a carrier in the Sky Clubs (yeah, maybe some kids should also be on a leash or in a carrier as well). Just walking around or being held food counter level by mom is just – eeewwwwww!

And other things that bug me. Let’s take shedding. I have never met a dog that does not shed everywhere. Then there is drooling and other stuff, if you will. Dogs like to sniff everything and while we are at it kids like to touch just about everything (after they have picked their nose). None of this is OK in my book in any sort of close proximity to food service (or bar) area.

Sigh. I think I have a bad attitude this weekend but you tell me if I am wrong. Should dogs be banned from Sky Clubs (unless a service dog that is). Or, is it OK if they are there but they must be on a leash or in a carrier? You tell me – am I out in left field on this one? – Rene


PS – Another Schedule Change Saturday hit us again yesterday. Check your flights!

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Robert Lamb Reply

    You are right on, I am a dog person but Delta needs to take a stand

  2. I agree with you. Perhaps this is connected to the current fad of so many claiming that their pet is a “service animal” providing “emotional support” to get the dog a free ride on the plane.

    No offense meant to those with legitimate service animals, but the cheaters are spoiling it for those with real medical needs.

  3. I have had this same opinion for several years and totally agree with you. I was at the JFK Korean Airlines lounge and when you are exhausted and just want a quiet place to rest and get a few bites etc, there is nothing more annoying than having someones dog come up to you because it’s not on a leash. So many things can happen. When I was there, a lady just let her dog roam freely. If you have a plate of food out, next thing the dog sticks his nose in your food. Also, dogs shed a lot and the hair can get on the furniture, your food, bags, clothes etc. A lounge (or, in my opinion, restaurants as well), is not the place for pets. At the very least, have a separate area for this kind of thing and people can all hang out with each others’ dogs in one area if they want.

  4. The real question is did you say something? We’re to PC these days and these human slobs will continue to push the line further and further unless someone puts them in their place. I pity the person who brings an ’emotional support’ pig or horse or sheep or whatever the hell else he decides on a plane and sits next to me. They’re unsanitary outdoor creatures and all animal should be left outside. What a joke.

  5. Maybe it’s an emotional support animal. Personally, I’d say that an emotional support turkey would be more appropriate for the food area, but that’s just me.

  6. I too am a dog person, have had at least one my entire life. Just like those with peanut allergies what about those allergic to dogs? My guess is it’ll take somebody having a severe reaction before Delta does anything about it; that or maybe one of the animals taking care of business in the middle of the lounge (if you smell what I mean).

  7. I’m a dog person. I travel with my dog who is a 3 1/2 pound poodle named Missy. But I would never let her out of her carrier in a lounge or restaurant. If I saw a dog by the buffet I would not be eating. I’m OCD about clean hands and if a person is holding their dog. The persons hands are gross.

    When I travel Missy goes to the doggy spa the day before to get groomed. So she is probably cleaner than some people.

  8. I agree with you 100%. It’s completely inappropriate. Most of the dogs you see on flights are fake service dogs. There is no proof of certification required, and unfortunately Delta is not even supposed to ask. If the passenger says it’s a service dog, it’s a service dog. So anybody with a little dog or other pet can save hundreds of dollars and the hassle of putting the dog in a crate and instead claim it’s a service animal and it flies for free. Something needs to be done. I think we should all have “severe pet allergy, cannot fly with dogs” put in our profile. They aren’t allowed to ask for proof of that either. Until this situation starts to disrupt their system and cost them money, they will do nothing. They already took a gate at DTW and converted it to a pet bathroom because people were just letting their pets go to the bathroom anywhere. There’s a special place in hell for people with fake service animals. The final problem here is that all of these fakers discredit REAL service animals…..

  9. As a dog person I agree. I always kept my dog in a carrier maybe with the head peaking out. Btw. Poodles have zero shedding.

  10. Brian from Brooklyn Reply

    It is absolutely OK and allowed per the rules of SkyClub. This isn’t your home but rather a semi-public place, if you don’t care for these policies then that is your problem and you should take it up with Delta. Don’t blame, photograph, and shame the people, pets, kids in the lounge who are acting within the rules of the club.

  11. Todd Conner Reply

    You are right on about keeping animals out. Dead wrong on cats over dogs.

  12. Thanks for posting this. I have seen dogs in the United Club as well prancing about by their over-entitled owners. If owners need to use the lounge, they need to keep their pets in an appropriate storage container and not roaming about unleashed.

  13. Robin Pennock Reply

    I agree that animals are not appropriate, unless it is a genuine service dog. And then, that animal should be kept away from the food and bar area, if at all possible. PLEASE remember those of us who, as much as we may like dogs and cats, are ALLERGIC to them.

  14. I share your concerns. However, pets are becoming more commonplace in air travel. In the clubs they should be leashed or in a carrier. Free roaming? No! People should not be allowed to share their pet with everyone else.

  15. You are correct. I love dogs, but they should be kept away from food or places where the public is consuming food. This stuff of “emotional support” is getting out of hand and it is about time that the rest of us stand up. Thanks for your rant.

  16. Agree fully. There should be no Dogs unless in a carrier.
    With respect to so called Service Animals for emotional support, this is so over abused it is not funny. Leave the Dog at home.

  17. Emotional support animals do not have public access. Simply put: Where pets are not allowed, emotional support dogs are not allowed. Not restaurants. Not malls. Not libraries. Not the local hardware store.

    The Civil Aeronautics Board, however, has ruled that a passenger may fly with his/her pet if he/she has a Physician’s note stating that he/she benefits emotionally from the dog.

    In its present form it’s a bad rule because no proof of training or certification is required. Such a requirement would ensure that the dog and owner have received at least minimal team training and that they won’t be a nuisance to the public.

    Probably because of the CAB rule, Delta allows Sky Club access to emotional support dogs. This puts the burden on Delta employees and Sky Club guests to watch for dog owners who are stuck on stupid.

    I have been snapped at and growled at by dogs purported to be emotional support dogs. These dogs have no business being in the Sky Club, or anywhere else where pets are not allowed. The dogs and their owners can and should be removed.

    In the SLC Sky Club I saw a passenger with two “emotional support” dogs. Please. Before I could ask the owner about them she quickly left the Club because they began growling at guests.

    I live with a Service dog. They are quite another story.

    Service Dog Teams consist of a dog and a Handler and are certified by Assistance Dogs International (ADI). Teams are trained professionally. Their training continues for as long as they are a Team. Their ability to perform as a Team is constantly monitored by ADI. Teams carry upwards of $3 million of liability insurance.

    Teams are easy to spot. Dogs wear a cape (in rare cases, a bandana) that identifies it as a working dog. The Handler carries ADI photo identification for him/herself and for the service dog. It is most often displayed on a lanyard worn by the Handler.

    Service dogs are not overweight. They do not eat food off the floor. They do not react to other animals. They do not interact with other people. They do not sit on furniture. The do not invade other’s personal space. They are essentially invisible.

    The CAB needs to change its rules and require emotional support dogs to carry certification. Until that happens emotional support dogs and their clueless owners can and should be removed from the Sky Club. The CAB does not protect them.

  18. I totally agree with you. I have had many dogs in my life, but this situation with dogs, and especially fake service animals is totally out of hand. The dogs have more rights than the rest of us. God forbid you say something to the person. I have been told by several people that if you just say it’s a service animal, people can’t question you. Outright lying. Thank you for calling them out.

  19. I absolutely agree and I’m an animal lover. However, for me, a leach is not enough. They need to be in a carrier away from the food area. Many people have pet allergies and this is just good common sense.

  20. As someone who shows cats and travels with them sometimes for shows (and totally agree about cats being better than dogs LOL), I would have no issues staying out of the skyclub with them (even though they are always in a carrier) if Delta would ban ALL kids under 16 or 18 and all pets except service (but still ban emotional) animals.

    Seeing they are never going to ban kids or pets, Delta should require animals to be in a carrier the entire time they are in the Skyclub and I thought that was the rule even though people don’t always obey it.

    In this case I’m sure it wasn’t a service animal. Service animals and their owners go through a lot of training and a service animal would never behave that way.

  21. I’m highly allergic to pet dander and always have Medication with me. Had a doctors appointment the other day and a person had a dog in the office. I told the receptionist I would be out in the hall so as to not take any chances. Yep, you guessed it – when my name was called, no one had bothered to tell the nurse. I missed the first call but got taken to a room when I came in to remind them I was there. Not sure which was more annoying but . . .

  22. Dogs and cats belong in carriers unless they are service dogs. I have a six pound dog and was denied entry to a Northwest (back in the day) Club in Seattle. The was many years ago and my dog was in a carrier. I travel on planes with her, she is well behaved and doesn’t bark, and is cleaner than a lot of people. Just make people obey rules.

  23. There was a USA Today article this week about a family with a dog hair-allergic child who broke out in a rash upon boarding. The flight crew removed the family – and all the other passengers clapped in joy! What the hell has happened to this country? As for @MG, anyone who takes a dog into a Korean Airlines club……..

  24. It’s nice to read that people here who are “dog people” are RESPONSIBLE dog people. The ones who fake the need for an emotional support animal are neither responsible nor “dog people” because those two things go hand in hand.

  25. Touching your dog and then handling food is disgusting, even if the food is your own.

  26. Spot on. Also agree with the service animal thing getting out of control. I googled this issue after being annoyed by a lady and her unruly beagle on a flight a while back. Apparently this is a serious problem for trained service animals, as they are trained to be submissive with other animals, and an aggressive fake service animal can seriously injure them, and presumably put the handler at risk as well.

    Saw the article about the kid in Washington getting removed from flight, and assumed that was another fake service dog. I know some people that got their note right off of the Internet.

  27. Grumpy old Diamond! All dogs do not shed. Like people, there are well behaved dogs and then not so. Often they are related, misbehaving owners and misbehaving pets. I protest rules that exclude all because the don’t have the guts to selectively act on the violators!

  28. I’m a 100% dog person, but animals simply don’t belong in airline lounges or in public spaces where food is being prepared.

    Rather than complain on the blog,Why not simply file a complaint with the appropriate county health department – including pictures and copy the local television station. Surly Delta doesn’t want to end up with the negative press just when they are raising prices for membership…

  29. ‘But cats are better’ ???? I think I have to stop reading your bog now. The constant negativity of late was bad enough but now thinking cats are better. *shudder*

  30. Brian almost nailed it. The Sky Club is a semi-public space. For people. As such, it’s no place for pets, tempest 2 tantrums, or walking around in your bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. This is not YOUR home, which is where YOUR pets belong. As for being an “emotional support” animal, please. That’s the sort of scene – and excuse – that drives me to need emotional support. From a person.

  31. Don in ATL Reply

    It is most likely illegal. I believe SkyClubs have to have a license to serve food and pass inspection. At least the ones in ATL need it. The FDA guidelines for food establishments say NO DOGS (except for service dogs, etc.) Most states simply adopt the FDA guidelines and make them their own. The FDA guidelines explains why you see dogs in British pubs, but almost never see dogs in US restaurants. See pages 181-182 in the link for the appropriate rule on dogs. I think you can end this SkyClub practice by contacting the appropriate person at DL and referencing these FDA rules:

  32. Totally right about cats! However all pets should remain in their carrier on the plane and in airline lounges and restaurants. I travel to our second home with our cat. I can be next to someone for a 5-hr flight and no one knows the cat is there. That is how it should be!

  33. I travel with cats more than alone…and I totally agree! I’ve taken my kitty in Sky Club, but always in the carrier, and I don’t let anyone know I have one with me either…:-) I do not want your loose animal getting hair, germs, whatever on my veggies! Common courtesy people!!

  34. Bruce Weinberg Reply

    I wasn’t allowed to bring a sandwich in the Sky Club but it’s ok to bring a pet? Now I’m really pissed. Makes no sense.

    • @Bruce- Sad but true 🙁
      I know, tell them it’s your emotional support sandwich 🙂

  35. @Brian-

    It is NOT “Okay.” A SkyClub is a food service establishment, among other things, and as such, cannot allow nor permit animals to move freely throughout such.

    People must take personal ownership and responsibility for their actions and their (fake or real) service or emotional support animals…even just plain ‘pets.’

    Our society is crumbling because of the too often majority crushing people who (rightfully) object to offensive behaviors…all in the name of ‘tolerance.’

  36. I like dogs also , but there Dog’s !!
    It’s getting out of hand !
    That poor kid on southwest that had the allergy sttack because of a dog on the plane , and They through the kid and his family off the plane ! NOT THE DOG !
    If you can’t travel without an Emotional Support Animal !
    Stay home ! Or at least make it company policy that if it’s between a dog and a person , THE PERSON WINS !!!!

  37. Andy Ancar Reply

    If you bring a kid besides yourself, you have to pay for the entry, unless you have family membership. In which case, kids MUST be allowed.
    Do the people have to pay entry fee for the dog or dogs

  38. True service animals are well trained and normally very well mannered. The pets people drag around with emotional support tags on them don’t even have basic obedience and ESA’s are not included in pyblic access as service animals. Sky clubs don’t worry about health department rules or they would show concern when their macaroni and cheese is barely above room temperature instead of asking me why that was a problem. Pets should be made to stay in their carriers regardless of where in the airport they are.

  39. Dogs should be on a leash but anyone smart enough to game the system, as we do with points and miles, more power to them

  40. You’re going to get sick from another human before you get sick from a dog. (Severe allergy notwithstanding).

  41. Young_Tho®ough Reply

    The unsanitary outdoor creature comment is classic for any animal, whether human or other mammal.

    It’s a public space (airport, plane, SkyClub) so I don’t see any validity to banning specific people or animals. However from a food service perspective, service areas should be seperated from the club areas and not have animals near it.

    However decorum is decorum. Etiquette and class can’t be expected without disappointment these days. I shouldn’t suffer however when I keep my dog in the carrier and quiet when I’m in the club, because classless individuals don’t. Same applies to kids too; demonstrate some class and people won’t be bothered.

    What’s more debatable to me is who gets put off a flight in an allergy situation? The Allergen or the Afflicted lol? I think of it like the sidewalk or the bus I guess. If you dislike a fellow passenger for some reason, fragrance allergy, SARS…you should be free to take another bus, plane or cross the street to the other sidewalk.

    But i understand the flipside as well. People pay to expect some peanuts so should no one gets peanuts when a pax has a peanut allergy or do they keep getting bumped.

    #firstworldproblems. As a person with allergies and a dog I see the dilemma.

  42. Really?? I mean we are talking Skyclubs right? I doesn’t bother me at all to see dogs there, especially if Delta had those passengers fork over a hefty fee to put their pet under their legs. I would rather the pet walk on leash in the club than have an anxiety attack in the crate on the flight. As far as cleanliness, the clubs are so filthy these days that few well behaved dogs will hardly be a problem. I agree they shouldn’t go near the food areas but for everywhere else, they don’t bother me. If anything they cheer me up while traveling.
    I only flew with our dog once, and only allowed her head out of the case in the club to get her a drink. Several kids that were running around wildly came over and calmed down petting the dog. Many were quite thankful that I had the dog with. Oh yeah, and Delta charged me $400 roundtrip to fly her, she is 10lbs.

    • Passengers who claim that their dog is a comfort dog do not have to keep their dog in a crate and the dogs fly for free.

  43. @all of the above

    Emotional support animal my butt. Free travel for all the animals?!

  44. Not my dog in the club, but I typically place mine on the bar next to me in AA lounges though. The bartenders get a kick out out of it and even often give him free nuts in a paper cup!

  45. Wait, I can’t have Delta peanuts because someone might be allergic on the plane but pet hair in the skyclub in and around the food area is OK? Pet’s on leash or better yet in carrier. I grew up with 6 cats and 2 dogs and have pets now but – unlike my AmExp Delta Reserve Card – I leave home without them.

  46. Absolutely correct, Rene. Animals need to be in the luggage compartment and never in airport clubs. If a human is allergic to an animal and there is an animal on the flight, then the animal needs to leave. People First, always. If you are allergic to peanuts you notify the airline and they make arrangement. I encourage all who are allergic to animals to notify the airline in the same manner and demand that they arrange for no animals on board. If I am on a flight and an animal snaps or growls or in any way is aggressive towards me it will receive a sharp rap on top of the nose with a blunt object! And then I will immediately demand the airline remove the animal and its owner as a threat, just like an unruly human. Enough is enough! We need to start taking photos and complaining constantly until this epidemic is once and for all eliminated! My personal mission begins today!

  47. I’m surprised about all these comments about leaving animals at home. Sometimes it is necessary to travel pets, just like it’s necessary to travel with a small child.

    When I travel with my cats they are in their carrier and remain in the carrier in the sky club and in the cabin. They don’t stop any passengers from sleeping unlike some infants I have encountered.

    If someone is allergic to a pet on a plane maybe a fair compromise would be for them to tell the airline they have a pet allergy when they book the ticket. If there is already a pet booked on the airline then they are told there is an animal already booked and they will need to book on another flight. If someone books with a pet after there is someone already booked with a confirmed pet allergy than that person will be told when they booked they have to go on another flight.

    If someone is flying with a pet it isn’t the simple to just get on another flight. Pets need food, water, exercise, to use the restroom.

    I’m amazed at the number of people that say they have pet allergies but can live with it instead of sitting in coach or taking another flight.

    There’s been two cases this year. The one time I was in paid first and someone that was upgraded complained they had a severe cat allergy. When they were told that since I was paid and they were upgrade they were free to sit in economy all of a sudden they could live with the allergy.

    The other time I was an upgrade and so was the person complaining. They were told that since I was a diamond and they were gold the FA was happy to reseat them and sure enough she could deal with a cat next to her.

  48. I have three dogs. I would be mortified to take them into a Sky Club. They are very well trained black labs, but they are still dogs. They LOVE other people and think other people must LOVE them just as much. (which is not a bad thing, but when your neighbor is allergic he really does not want them greeting him) They also LOVE food. Delta Sky Club = lots of food and new people. I would be on pins and needles the entire time unless they were in their crates…which is where any dog should be. And exactly as someone else said, service animals are a whole different ball game.

  49. flew considerably with my previous dog. He was a breed mix that neither of his mixes shed nor had dander. He was very quiet, well behaved and loved to travel. If he was not in his carrier (90% of the time he was and only long delays or layovers was he out) then he was in my lap (leashed) or right at my feet (leashed). Heaven knows I did not want him touching a majority of the people we met traveling. He was better behaved and cleaner than a majority of the kids and adults we encountered.

    One must be responsible with pets just as they are with kids and adults (many adults should not be left unleashed to roam the airports or planes).

    I now have a new puppy who is learning to travel properly and yes he will be flying with me,

  50. Don in ATL Reply

    I am currently in the HNL SkyClub and just asked about their policy for dogs in the Club. The answer was: dogs are permitted if they have been approved to be on the plane, but they must remain in their cage.

    She seemed to think this was the policy through out all the Sky Clubs.

  51. I am currently in the Sky Club in JFK Terminal 4 and there are at least 4 dogs in here and non-stop barking.

    Worry less about overcrowding with people and more on dogs

    • Sky Club guests do not have to put up with barking dogs or any other inappropriate animal behavior. I don’t hesitate to report offensive dog/owner behavior to Sky Club staff. The animals and their owners are immediately directed to the exit.

      I live with a service dog. I have also been a puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence. I know what proper dog/handler behavior looks like.

      Unfortunately most of the dogs purported to be emotional support animals have not had any formal training and they do they carry any kind of certification to show that they have good behavior. As such, the minute they or their owners behave in an inappropriate manner, they need to be shown the door.

  52. They will show a loud animal and it’s owner to the door in the sky club???

    Is that also the case with a loud crying baby and the parent? I’ve been in a skyclub a couple times with a loud crying infant and the staff hasn’t done a thing

    • @Gary – If I (and I would NEVER btw) paid a ridiculous and boarding on insane $59.95 to get into the SkyPub I would do what I please that is for sure!

  53. I’m someone that travels with my dog occasionally. First off, all dogs are supposed to be on a leash or in a carrier anywhere in the airport which includes sky clubs. Holding a dog at the food counter is just bad etiquette. Walking it beside you (leashed) as you get some food may be unavoidable however. I would never imagine letting my dog be off leash in such a public place period. And not just for the safety of others but her own personal safety as well.

    As for should they be allowed in…sky club entrance or membership costs money. Furthermore the animals are either service dogs or you have paid $250 + for your dogs right to fly. I would definitely be upset if they told me I couldn’t bring my dog after doing all that.

    As for people with allergies, if your child is allergic to dogs and so severely allergic they’re going to have a reaction from stray dog hair…they’re in trouble anyways if they sit anywhere in the vicinity of me or anyone else that has come into close contact with our dogs. The hair and more importantly dander is all over us regardless.

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