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Flying With Your Service Dog : What You Need To Know

The laws surrounding flying with a Service Dog have recently changed. Let's take a look at what that means for you.

dachshund service dog holding a boarding pass

Background

Traveling with a service dog is always tricky due to the abundance of access issues handlers are guaranteed to face. However while the rules of ground travel are usually cut and dry, air travel has become more complicated. The laws surrounding flying with a Service Dog have recently changed. Let's take a look at what that means for you. As of December 2, 2020, the department of transportation finalized its revision of the Air Carrier Access Act. This revision changed some of the regulations and protocols placed on those flying with their service dogs.



Breakdown Of Regulations

The Air Carrier Access Act Defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.

  • This regulation will impact those traveling with service horses.


The Air Carrier Access Act No longer considers an emotional support animal to be a service animal and also requires airlines to treat psychiatric service animals the same as other service animals.

  • Originally service animals and emotional support animals were given the same privileges.

  • psychiatric service animals were not treated as real service animals. The new ruling ensures that psychiatric service animals will have the same federal protection while flying as other service animals.


The Air Carrier Access Act Allows airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal’s health, behavior, and training, and if taking a long flight attesting that the service animal can either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner;


The Air Carrier Access Act Allows airlines to require individuals traveling with a service animal to provide the DOT service animal form(s) up to 48 hours in advance of the date of travel if the passenger’s reservation was made before that time.

  • Those traveling with a service dog may now be required to fill out paperwork. However, this is dependent on if the airline one is flying with chooses to make this a requirement.

  • If your flight was booked less than 48 hours from its time of departure then you do not have to worry about the forms.


The Air Carrier Access Act Prohibits airlines from requiring passengers with a disability who are traveling with a service animal to physically check in at the airport instead of using the online check-in process;

  • Those traveling with service animals may now check in online.



The Air Carrier Access Act Allows airlines to require a person with a disability seeking to travel with a service animal to provide the DOT service animal form(s) at the passenger’s departure gate on the date of travel.


The Air Carrier Access Act Allows airlines to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals;

  • Those with three or more service animals may be denied access.


The Air Carrier Access Act Allows airlines to require a service animal to fit within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft;

  • Those with larger service dogs, such as a Great Dane, may be greatly limited in their travel options as airlines are now allowed to limit the amount of space your animal may take up.

  • Handlers may be forced to purchase extra or larger seating to accommodate this regulation.


The Air Carrier Access Act Allows airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed, or tethered at all times in the airport and on the aircraft;

  • This regulation may limit the tasks your service animal can perform.


The Air Carrier Access Act Continues to allow airlines to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior and that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others; and


The Air Carrier Access Act Continues to prohibit airlines from refusing to transport a service animal solely based on breed.


Summary Of Changes

  • Be prepared to fill out paperwork provided by the DOT.

  • Be prepared to use alternate tasks your animal can perform if the ones they must do off-leash are limited.

  • Be prepared to pay for extra or larger seating to accommodate your service animal if they are a larger breed.


LINKS TO DOT FORMS


Relief Attestation Form

https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/2021-01/U.S.%20DOT%20Service%20Animal%20Relief%20Attestation%20Form.pdf


Service Animal Air Transportation Form

https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/2021-01/U.S.%20DOT%20Service%20Animal%20Air%20Transportation%20Form.pdf

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