Flying with a Service Animal

Service Dog Puppy

As of January 2021,to fly with Service Animals, Airlines may require that Service Animals must be Dogs, you must present a DOT Attestation form up to 48 hours in advance, fit in the seat footprint, remain on a leash and travelers are limited to 2 service Dogs, you may check-in online.

What Proof or Documents Do Airlines Need for Service Animals?

For US Airlines, Up to 48 hours in advance Airlines may require:

  • A U.S. DOT form attesting to the animal’s health, behavior, and training. See Form HERE.
  • A U.S. DOT form attesting that the animal can either not relieve itself or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner for flights over 8 hours

For International Flights from/to the EU:

  • Your Service Animal must be Professionally Trained to be Recognized.
  • In the EU and specifically, Lufthansa, British Airways, and Austrian Airlines, your Service Dog cannot be Self-Trained. 
  • You must submit a Certificate/Document issued by a Training Facility or Trainer who specializes in by regulation of European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC).
  • The Facility or organization must be accredited by ADI/ADEu/IGDF.

8 DOT Rules Changes for Flying with Service Dogs

The new ACAA rules are more restrictive than the ADA requirements as of January 11, 2021. See Rule Here.

The biggest changes are:

  • Only Dogs are considered Service Animals for Flying.
  • DOT may require the United States Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation Form.
  • The airline requires this form up to 48 hours in advance and/or at the gate of departure.
  • Airlines must allow travelers with Service Dogs to check-in online.  They are no longer required to check-in in person.
  • Limits travelers with disabilities and a service Dog to 2 dogs.
  • The Service Dog MUST fit within the footprint of the travelers seat or on their lap. 
  • If the Dog does not fit within the seat footprint, the traveler can ask to be moved to another seat with more space so long as it is within the same cabin-class.
  • If another seat in the same class is not available, the traveler has the option to either travel in Cargo or reschedule for the first available next flight.
  • Airlines are allowed to require a leash or tether at all times.
  • Airlines may deny boarding to aggressive dogs or that are a threat to others.  The airlines cannot deny based on breeds but, on observations of the Dog. 

Can an airline deny my service dog to board my flight?

You Service Dog may be denied boarding your airplane if you do not present the required DOT forms, your Dog does not fit in the footprint of your seat, or your Dog’s behavior is disruptive. 

In the EU, your Service Animal will be denied flying if it is not professionally trained and you cannot present certification from a professional trainer or facility.  More on that below.

In the US: the DOT gives airlines three methods to use in determining whether someone is travelling with a true service animal:

  • These are the three ways the airline’s staff can verify your canine companion is a service dog:
  • Asking whether the animal is required to accompany the passenger because of a disability and what work or task(s) the animal has been trained to perform.
  • It’s important to note here that service dog owners have a right to a certain degree of privacy. Airline staff cannot make specific inquiries about your disability or ask that you have your service dog demonstrate the task it has been trained for.
  • Observing the behavior of the animal.
  • Airline staff are trained to know differences between pets and service animals.  They will observe the general behavior of the service dog to see whether it remains under the control of its handler.
  • A service dog can be barred from a flight if it is out of control, barking or growling repeatedly at other passengers or animals, biting, jumping on or causing injury to others, or urinating or defecating in the cabin or gate area.

Airlines May Deny a Service Dog to Board a Flight if:

  • Violates safety requirements – e.g., too large or heavy to be accommodated in the cabin
  • When the Dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
  • When the Dog causes a significant disruption in the cabin or at airport gate areas; or
  • Violates health requirements – e.g., prohibited from entering a U.S. territory or foreign country.

What is a Psychiatric Service Animal? 

A Psychiatric Service Animal is a one specifically trained to help an individual living with a mental illness.

A Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) is an animal,  usually a dog, specifically trained to support individuals diagnosed with a mental illness.

A well trained PSD is able to ease symptoms caused by the mental disability and can comfort their handler in times of distress. In some cases, a Psychiatric Service Dog can be trained to sense the onset of psychiatric episodes and alert their handler.

PSDs may also help with everyday tasks, such as reminding their owner to take medication or helping them stay in touch with reality during hallucinations.

What Psychiatric Disabilities Can a Service Dog Assist with?   According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), these dogs must assist their handlers in completing tasks that directly relate to their disabilities including:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • PTSD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Agoraphobia and others

When flying, Psychiatric Service Animals have had rough time in the past due to the abuse by so many diluting the need for service animals by claiming their Pet is a Service animal under the guise of Emotional Support Animal (ESA). 

In 2021 the rules for allowing ESAs have changed and airlines are no longer required to allow ESAs to fly in cabin.  ESAs are now, rightfully, considered Pets for airlines from the US.

Getting through the Airport with a Service Dog

For TSA Security Check, you have a option of removing all your dog’s gear or switching to a metal-free leash or having the Agent perform a pat-down. 

Give the Dog a vocal command to go through the detector, then walk through yourself. Usually, TSA agents don’t let you touch the dog until the pat down in complete.

You can choose to pre-board and you do not have to check-in in person.  The new rules allow you to check-in online.

Flying with a Service Dog in 2021 | New US DOT Rules-YouTube

As of January 2021,to fly with Service Animals, Airlines may require that Service Animals must be Dogs, you must present a DOT Attestation form up to 48 hours in advance, fit in the seat footprint, remain on a leash and travelers are limited to 2 service Dogs, you may check-in online.

See Also, Can my ESA Become a Psychiatric Trained Service Dog for Airline Travel?

Published by Stephanie Fling

Everything Pet Travel Related by Air, Sea and Land.

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