Can an Airline Deny My Service Dog to Fly?

soldier and black dog cuddling

Airlines may deny a Service Dog to Fly if the Dog violates Safety Requirements: If the Dog is too big, too heavy, is ill-behaved (excessive barking, growling, jumping, lunging, nipping or biting) or appears unhealthy or unclean.

Flying with My Dog: Can the Airline Deny My Service Dog Boarding the Plane?

Most Service Dogs are well-trained, highly socialized to avoid external distractions and focus on their Companion.

If the Service Dog is too large it may not be allowed to fly In-Cabin.  If your Service Dog is too large to fit in the footprint of the aircraft seat, an otherwise qualified Service Dog may not be able to fly.

The airline is required to try to move you and your Dog to another seat that can accommodate your Service Dog.

CAVEAT:  the new seat assignment MUST be in the same class–the airline is not required to upgrade your flight.  But, the flight attendants do have discretion to move you to another class if they choose to and have room. 

If the Service Dog is too heavy to be accommodated in the cabin, the airline may accommodate the traveler and Dog in another seat.  Usually, this accommodation must be in the same class of cabin; however, the airline staff has discretion.

Your Service Dog may be denied boarding an aircraft if it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

The Service Dog or any Dog In-Cabin that causes a significant disruption in the cabin or at airport gate areas such as excessive barking, growling, jumping, lunging, nipping or biting.

If your Service Dog violates health requirements such as not having the proper vaccinations or Health Certificates.

Airlines may also deny transport to a Service Dog if the airline requires completed DOT service animal forms and the service animal user does not provide the airline these forms. This is a simple form and is usually available at the check-in counter.

What Is a Service Dog for Flying?

A service Dog is defined as a Dog that’s individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability, including but not limited to:

  • Sight Impairments
  • Deafness
  • Seizures
  • Mobility impairments
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Psychiatric Conditions

Fully-trained Service Dogs usually fly In-Cabin for free if they meet the requirements.

Can an Airline Ask What Your Service Dog is For?

Airlines can determine whether a Dog is a Service Dog vs a Pet by:

  • Asking an individual with a disability if the Dog is required to accompany the traveler because of a disability
  •  What work or task the Service Dog has been trained to perform;
  • The airline staff may not request that your Service Dog demonstrate the tasks
  • Looking for physical indicators such as the presence of a harness or vests.  These are not required but, can be helpful to distinguish you Service Dog from pets 
  • Looking to see if the animal is harnessed, leashed, or otherwise tethered; and
  • Observing your Service Dog’s general behavior

What Documents Does My Service Dog Need to Fly?

The Airline may Require the Following Documentation for Your Service Dog to Fly:

  • Health Certificate
  • Vaccination Record
  • A U.S. DOT form attesting to the animal’s health, behavior, and training; and
  • A U.S. DOT form attesting that the animal can either not relieve itself or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner, if the animal will be on a flight that is 8 or more hours.

Flying with a Service Dog: Restrictions:

  • Service Dogs in Airports and In-Cabin must be harnessed and leashed at all times.
  • Dogs under 4 months of age may not travel as a Service Dog
  • Service Dogs must be clean and well-behaved
  • Your Service Dog must be able to fit within the foot print of your airline seat, under the seat in front of you or in your lap.  Dogs that are the size of an average 2 year old child may sit on your lap during the flight
  • You are limited to 2 Service Dogs per flight
  • Service Dogs in training, emotional support animals, and comfort animals are not Service Dogs but may travel as pets for the regular fee for all pets flying.

Service Dogs are protected when Traveling on Planes; however, some airline staff are ill-trained and ask inappropriate and illegal questions when flying.

See Also, Flying with a Service Dog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.