From the Flight Deck: Air Travel Updates

For anyone who opted for a staycation last month, here’s what you missed in the world of air travel: Delta bans pit bulls, TSA restricts powders, MCO expands its facial recognition technology and small airplane seats are here to stay.

Delta Bans Pit Bulls

This airline keeps a tight leash. Delta has updated its service- and support-animal policy, and, effective July 10, pit bull-type dogs are no longer accepted. Also effective is a new limit of one support animal per customer, per flight. These updates follow an increase in service-animal-related incidents, including biting. Delta says it’s putting customer and employee safety—as well as the special needs of certain passengers—at the forefront of this policy change.

“Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders and more. Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs,” wrote a Delta spokesperson in a press release.

TSA Restricts Carry-On Powders

A new TSA rule affecting flights traveling to the United States from abroad limits the quantity of powders and powdery substances allowed in carry-on bags. Items such as powdered baby formula, protein powders, ground coffee and powdered cosmetics must be stored in no larger than a 12-ounce container. Otherwise, it’s check it or toss it.

This restriction is part of a larger security effort in airports across the nation. “There are a range of powders that could be used to irritate or harm aircraft passengers and air crew if released during flight,” said Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman.

Orlando Expands Facial Recognition

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is saving face(s). Or is it? Despite controversy, MCO is the first airport in the nation to expand its automated facial recognition technology to all international travel, starting with flights to and from London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW). What you’ll notice is a set of clear saloon-like doors at the departure gate, where you’ll stop to take your picture and wait for the technology to match your photo to its database. When the system is fully operational, an estimated 5.9 million faces a year will be put on record with the U.S. government.

Airport officials say it will expedite travel—no boarding passes needed—and help thwart terrorism. Opponents argue privacy infringement. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, prepare to say “cheese” if departing from Orlando’s international terminal.

FAA Hard Passes on Regulating Seat Size

Despite getting served a federal appeals court case, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it will not regulate airplane seat size, in a July 2 letter to nonprofit advocacy group FlyersRights.org. The group filed a petition demanding the FAA establish guidelines and investigate the potential dangers of shrinking seats—think: blood clots and botched emergency evacuations. The FAA responded, saying, “Seat width and pitch, even in combination with increasing passenger size, do not hamper the speed of an evacuation.” In short, request denied.