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Air Travel with Your Guide Dog or Service Animal

Close up of two people reaching for a guide dog harness
Close up of two people reaching for a guide dog harness

In a nutshell, airlines shall permit dogs and other service animals used by people with disabilities to accompany them on a flight.

The main requirements of the Air Carrier’s Access Act, which includes travel to/from the U.S. on foreign carriers, in regards to service animals, say that airlines need to:

  • Accept as evidence identification cards, other written documentation, presence of harnesses, tags or the credible verbal assurances of a qualified individual with a disability using the animal. They cannot automatically require certified documentation.
  • Permit a service animal to accompany a qualified individual with a disability in any seat in which the person sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed to comply with FAA regulations.
  • Allow the passenger, if needed, to move with the animal to a seat location in the same class of service, if present on the aircraft, where the animal can alternatively be accommodated instead of requiring that the animal travel in the cargo hold. Note that service animals do not need to perform a function for the passenger during the flight in order to fly in the cabin.

The animal can be disallowed access to the cabin if it:

  • Poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others (e.g., animal displays threatening behaviors by growling, snarling, lunging at, or attempting to bite other persons on the aircraft), or
  • Causes a significant disruption in cabin service (i.e., a ‘‘fundamental alteration’’ to passenger service). Inconvenience of other passengers is not sufficient grounds to deny a service animal carriage in the cabin.

This information is based on U.S. regulations and U.S. air carriers. Check rules in other countries and foreign airlines if you are traveling internationally.

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