Service dogs and the Air Carriers Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) requires airlines to allow service animals and emotional support animals to accompany their handlers in the cabin of the aircraft.

For evidence that an animal is a service animal, air carriers may ask to see identification cards, written documentation, presence of harnesses or tags, or ask for verbal assurances from the individual with a disability using the animal. If airline personnel are uncertain that an animal is a service animal, they may ask one of the following:

[if !supportLists]1. [endif]What tasks or functions does your animal perform for you?

[if !supportLists]2. [endif]What has your animal been trained to do for you?

[if !supportLists]3. [endif]Would you describe how the animal performs this task for you?

If a service animal cannot be accommodated at the seat location of the handler with a disability whom the animal is accompanying, the carrier should offer the passenger the opportunity to move with the animal to a different seat location, if present on the aircraft, where the animal can be accommodated, as an alternative to requiring that the animal travel with checked baggage.

To ensure that you and your dog have an assigned seat, I suggest you notify the airlines you are traveling with a service dog as soon as you make the reservation. Keep a record of whom you spoke with and when. Before the day of travel, follow-up with the airline to make certain they have their records noted that your service dog is traveling with you. Ask if there is any special documentation you might need. Usually, a properly trained and behaved service dog will not be challenged at the gate. You might want to ask the gate agent to allow you to go onto the plane ahead of general boarding. Having your dog in a market harness and or a photo ID badge is not required, but can prevent being confronted when boarding.