Can I Take My Service Dog on an Airplane?2019-11-29
Yes. Service animals are welcome on all carrier flights. Service dogs include guide dogs and dogs trained to assist people with hearing, balance, and mobility impairments such as those in a wheelchair.
Each airline has unique policies and rules about traveling with a service dog. A bigger percentage of airlines require you to let them know in advance if you are planning to travel with your dog.
During the flight, the animal should sit on your lap or on the floor. The service dog shouldn’t block the aisle way or sit in emergency exit rows. The dog should be in your control at all times. You are not required to pay any pet travel fees when you are flying with a service animal.
How Far in Advance Do I Need to Make Preparations for Travel with a Service Dog?
The first step in your preparations should be to contact your airline before you travel. The earlier you contact them the better. The flight crew may need to make some preparations to accommodate your service dog, so you must inform them about the animal you are going to fly with. The airline may help you in selecting the most comfortable seat for you and your dog. If you can find a direct flight, it will make the experience better for you and your service dog.
On the day of travel, arrive at the airport a few hours early. Inform the security officers that your animal is a service dog and not a pet. They should allow you to move to the front of the screening queue since security is likely to take more time on you and your dog. You will not be separated from your dog at any time during the screening.
If the dog will travel in a carrier, make sure it’s the appropriate size to allow the animal to stand, turn, and lie down comfortably. The door to the carrier should be secured, but not necessarily locked during the flight.
Prepare your dog for the flight. Service dogs are highly trained and are generally calm, but travel can be stressful for any animal. Reduce the dog’s food and water intake 24 hours before the flight and give the dog a bathroom break close to the time of travel.
Don’t forget to pack the dog’s food, treats, toys, and blankets, which will keep the dog comfortable during the plane. If your destination has harsh weather conditions, make sure you bring protective clothing that the dog might need.
Note: Most airlines allow service dogs to be any breed and don’t allow for breed discrimination. However, there are some airlines that have breed restrictions. Check your airline’s website to find out its policies.
What Paperwork and Documentation Do I Need to Present? Where Can I Get It?
Obtain and carry evidence to show that your dog is a service animal and not a pet. Most airlines use documents such as identification cards, written medical documentation, presence of a harness, emergency tags, and a credible verbal assurance of the individual with the disability. You can have as many forms or documentation as possible to make your approval process steady and straightforward.
To travel with a psychiatric or emotional service dog, you must provide supporting documentation dated one year to the day of your flight. The documents must be signed by a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional. They should state that you have a mental disability that is recognized by doctors and that you need a service animal as an accommodation for air travel. There should also be verification that the individual who provided your assessment is a licensed professional.
You may also need to present copies of proper health certificates such as vaccination and other shot records for your service dog. If you are flying internationally, we suggest you check the specific rules the destination country uses on service dogs. Please remember to review your airline’s policy to find out if there is any other form of documentation you might require.
In some instances, no documentation is required, but credible verbal confirmation should do the job. While it may be inappropriate and illegal for someone to ask about your disability, you may be asked about the tasks that the animal helps you to complete. Please answer the questions appropriately because misrepresenting an animal is unethical and against the law. Being polite and friendly will also go a long way in making your admission quicker.
Will My Dog Need a Crate to Travel, or Can They Sit at My Feet?
Specific in-flight rules and procedures vary by airline. For most airlines, dogs don’t need a crate, but the dog must not show any signs of bad behavior or aggression such as barking, biting, growling, lunging, emitting a strong odor, or relieving itself on-board.
The service animal should sit on your lap or on the floor. Carriers are only required if your dog is not a service dog. However, if your service animal is large and doesn’t fit into the regular seats, you can request a place in the bulkhead. Make sure that your dog doesn’t occupy space in the aisle.
Do I Need to Call the Airport on the Day of Travel to Remind Them I Am Coming with a Service Dog?
If you have already notified your airline that you will be traveling with your service dog, there isn’t any need to remind them. Ensure you have obtained the necessary documentation before you get to the airport. Remember that the dog will go through the same security checks as passengers, so make sure you get to the airport in time.
Of course, traveling with your well trained and behaved dog is a top privilege, so ensure you abide by the steps above. If you still have any questions involving traveling with your dog, give your airline a call and clear the doubt. Each airline interprets the set guideline differently, so the only way to confirm any details is to call.
Get in touch with Service Dog Registration of America to learn more about service animals and the need for registering them.
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