THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED FIVE TIMES IN AUGUST, 2019, JANUARY, 2020, DECEMBER 2020 AND FEBRUARY, 2021. ALL NEW CHANGES ARE BOLDED.
Airline pet policies on flying with emotional support and service animals are changing, and now the Department of Transportation (DOT) has implemented changes to the Airline Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and its regulation, 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382) in order to address the issues that airlines have recently been facing – lack of training, the use of false credentials and the variety of animal species whose owners claim protection under this legislation.
During the process of collecting public comment, DOT permitted the airlines to specify what type of animals they will allow as emotional support animals and those they will not. An airline group, Airlines for America, is suggesting that service animals be defined as “trained dogs that perform a task or work for an individual with a disability,” which would eliminate untrained emotional support animals from flying under the ACAA. This is the definition that the ACAA has now adopted. the definitions which is aligned with the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically defines this classification as dogs and miniature horses* only. Cats, and other animals are no longer offer protections under this act.
*Miniature horses must be less than 34″ tall and less than 100 pounds and cannot interfere with the space or safety of the aircraft or other passengers which, considering the new design of airplane cabins, is why they are not commonly seen. Horses must be housebroken and controllable.
Some of the other changes that were considered include policies that would distinguish between different types of animals, whether or not that they will need to travel in pet carriers, whether to limit the number of animals allowed per passenger, ease of reservations and booking for trained service animals. liability for damage caused by service animals, and whether to require all service animals be trained to behave in a public setting.
Currently, Title 14 Code of Federal Aviation Regulations – 382.117 dictates that the airline “must permit the service animal to accompany the passenger with a disability at any seat in which the passenger sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed to facilitate an emergency evacuation. Airlines may choose not to transport service and emotional support animals that are not socialized and trained to behave properly in close surroundings. Pet owners are expected to control their animals at all times when flying.
What is unclear is the species of the animal protected by this legislation, the type of disability, and the amount of information that must be disclosed to the airlines. Because of these gray areas, many of these protections have been extended to those who may not not truly qualify for them. These are the areas that the amendment clarifies.
UPDATE: August 8, 2019
The Department of Transportation has issued a clarification to the ACAA in response to airline restrictions made for ESAs. The DOT rulings addressed the following points:
- Airlines cannot discriminate against certain breeds of ESAs (as Delta did against Pit Bulls)
- Airlines cannot dictate the duration of the flight that ESAs would be allowed.
- Airlines must allow up to 3 assistance animals per passenger, however they can limit the number of ESAs to one.
- Airlines must allow miniature horses as service animals on their flights. (This is not a new rule.)
Later this year (2019), the Department of Transportation plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on service (and emotional support) animals. The NPRM would address the definition of a service animal and include safeguards to ensure safety for other passengers and flight crews. Additionally, the changes would reduce the likelihood that passengers traveling with their pets on aircraft will not be able to falsely claim their pets are service or emotional support animals when they are not. More information on this to come.
UPDATE: January 22, 2020
The Department of Transportation has issued a Notice of Rulemaking Change (NRMC) regarding several amendments to the Airline Carrier Access Act. The first would be to align the definition of a service animal to that defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act which is published by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which specifies a service animal as a dog that is 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.
Additionally, the amendment will require that all passengers flying with service dogs submit forms developed by DOT in advance of travel which will reflect pre-training and socialization. All service animals will need to be “harnessed, leashed or otherwise tethered.” Larger service animals and effects to in-cabin operations and the safety and welfare of other passengers and the crew will be considered as well as who is responsible for the damage they may cause to the aircraft. More information on the NRMC.?
UPDATE DECEMBER 2, 2020: The United States Department has issued a final ruling. with changes to the air transport of emotional support animals. Find it here. Basically, the ruling defines a service animal as a dog who is “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.” The final rule also gives the passenger the responsibility for caring for the service dog’s health needs, especially on longer flights. Additionally, the airlines may request supporting documentation from the passenger ahead of check in. A form published by the DOT attesting to the service dog’s health, behavior and training must be completed and submitted to all US-based airlines prior to flight. The form is available here.
Service animals must be “harnessed, leashed, or otherwise tethered” at all times while in the aircraft and the owner is responsible for any damage incurred by the service dog. This ruling will go into effect January 1, 2021.
For the purposes of this post, service dogs are defined as animals who have been trained to assist physically disabled passengers suffering from mobility issues, visual impairments, seizures, hearing issues, issues resulting from diabetes, PTSD anxiety or other physical issues. Emotional support animals are those who assist passengers with emotional, psychiatric, cognitive or psychological disabilities and have not received specialized training for the assistance they provide.
On all airlines, service dogs should be fully trained, clearly identified and leashed or harnessed. They will sit at their handler’s feet without protruding into the aisle or causing other safety concerns. If they are small enough, they may sit in their handler’s lap.?
The airlines can limit the number of service dogs accompanying a disabled passenger to two. The legislation is not breed-specific and the airlines cannot ban certain dog breeds from flying as trained service dogs.
Service animals in training may or may not be accepted by an airline under these regulations. Trained service dogs accompanied by their trainers and being delivered to their owners also may or may not fall under these regulations depending on airline policies. Therapy animals, rescue dogs and dogs providing immigration services such as drug or bomb detection are not accepted under these regulations.
THIS PARAGRAPH APPLIES TO AIRLINES THAT RECOGNIZE ESA ANIMALS AS OF THIS DATE. (LATAM, Volaris and KLM) Emotional support animals are permitted to sit in their owner’s laps if small enough not to touch any part of the seat and do not interfere or prevent other passengers from using seat amenities. They should be socialized and trained to behave around other people and pets, especially in small confines. Their owners should travel with proper documentation clearly identifying their licensed physician or medical professional, stating that they have a documented condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that necessitates that their pet travel with them and dated within a year of flight departure.
Animals are not permitted to sit in exit row seats. They are not permitted to fly in the seat next to their owner. They are not permitted to sit on the tray table. Owners should be prepared to demonstrate that they are prepared to handle the service dog’s hygienic needs on flights over 8 hours in duration. Some airlines will require that a sanitation form is completed prior to travel. This form has been released by the DOT and is available here.
Additionally, notification must be provided and permission granted in advance for countries that require that all live animals arriving by air to arrive as checked baggage or air cargo in the hold of the aircraft. (United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, India, New Zealand and others) The provision of this notice must be the same for disabled passengers as it is for other passengers (on-line and in-person).
It is also important to note that both service and emotional support animals are subject to the same requirements when flying internationally as other animals of their species. Owners should be prepared to present rabies and health certificates and all other documentation required by the airline or their destination country upon check-in.
Here are some of the new (and old) regulations regarding service and emotional support animals. For the most part, regulations concerning service dogs have not changed. Note that we will make every attempt to update this post when regulations change. We will also be adding addendums to this post with regulations from other airlines.
UPDATE: Delta no longer accepts emotional support animals of any kind. Handlers of service dogs must provide US DOT forms more than 48 hours before flight. Dog breed bans have been removed.
UPDATE: The Department of Transportation has rejected Delta’s ban of Pit Bulls as service or emotional support animals as their regulations do not address specific dog breeds. Note that the airline may still reject any dog that shows aggressive behavior.
UPDATE: Delta no longer recognizes emotional support animals. Dogs and cats small enough to fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier will be permitted to fly in the cabin. Charges will apply. Service dogs can fly in-cabin free of charge. DOT forms must be submitted.
Update: United Airlines no longer accepts emotional support animals of any kind. Dogs and cats small enough to fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier will be permitted to fly in the cabin. Charges will apply. Handlers of service dogs must provide US DOT forms more than 48 hours before flight.
Update: American Airlines no longer accepts emotional support animals of any kind. Dogs and cats small enough to fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier will be permitted to fly in the cabin. Charges will apply.Handlers of service dogs must provide US DOT forms more than 48 hours before flight.
Guide (service) dogs are accepted as long as they are clearly marked and remain leashed. Emotional support animals are no longer recognized.
Air France will require that owners of service dogs provide notification at least 48 hours in advance. Dogs must be over 12 months of age and identified with a tag or harness. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Service dogs (guide dogs, hearing dogs, diabetic alert dogs, seizure alert dogs) can fly in the cabin with their handlers on non-stop flights to or from the United States. For flights outside of the United States, a training certificate from a recognized training institute should be submitted in advance to the Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre via email or the Lufthansa Service Center. You will receive notice of approval from Lufthansa.
Lufthansa no longer recognizes emotional support animals.
Within 48 hours of flight departure, your service or emotional support dog must be registered with the centers referenced above and a medical certificate issued by a licensed physician confirming the need for you to be accompanied by an emotional support dog must be presented. You will receive notification of approval from Lufthansa. Two copies of this form must be presented at check-in.
All service dogs must be accompanied with an identification or card or other written document and be clearly identified. Notification must be provided a minimum of 48 hours prior to departure.
Emotional support dogs are no longer recognized on Air Canada.
All service dogs must have been trained to assist a disabled person and certified by an organization that is a member of Assistance Dogs International or International Guide Dog Federation. Notification should be provided at least 7 days in advance.?British Airways does not recognize emotional support animals.
Emirates will transport guide dogs for the blind in the cabin free of charge. Forty eight hour notice must be provided when traveling with a guide dog. Emotional support animals are not recognized.
JetBlue accepts trained service dogs only. Dogs must file DOT forms (above) at least 48 hours in advance of travel and submit them here. Dogs cannot occupy a seat. They must sit at their handler’s feet or lap (only if small enough) and cannot sit in an exit row. Maximum of 2 service dogs per passenger.
Southwest Airlines will accept only accept service dogs in the cabin at no charge on domestic and international flights. US DOT forms will be required.
Dogs who are trained to assist passengers with physical or psychiatric disability are the only animals that will be accepted as service dogs.
Passengers are encouraged to notify Southwest Airlines that they are flying with a service dog and US DOT forms will be required.
Service dogs that perform a task(s) to assist with deafness or hard of hearing, seizures, mobility limitations, limited vision, or other disabilities are accepted on Spirit Airlines flights at no charge. Passengers will be asked to provide a verbal description of the task that the service dog provides for them. Harnesses, vests, ID Cards or registration letters are no longer accepted.
Passengers with service dogs must submit DOT forms (see above) here more than 48 hours ahead of travel.
Therapy and service dogs in training are not covered under Spirit Airlines’ service dog policies.
Allegiant will permit trained service dogs in the cabin free of charge. They provide identification cards, tags, or other written documentation; harnesses or markings on harnesses or the credible verbal assurances of the individual with a disability using the animal. Owners will also need to submit a Veterinary Health Form at check in.
Notification at least 48 hours is required. The following information must be submitted, then a Service Animal ID will be issued.
- Veterinarian’s name and contact number
- Rabies vaccination date and expiration
- Trainer’s name/organization and contact number
After booking their flight, disabled passengers must request travel for their service dog here.
Swiss Airlines will only permit certified service dogs on their flights. Prior notification must be given when flights meet or exceed 8 hours.
TAP Portugal Airlines
TAP Portugal Airlines accepts guide dogs flying in the cabin with their owners at no charge. In either case, notification must be provided to TAP Portugal’s Service Center.
Guide, hearing and service dogs must be properly identified as service dogs and with documented evidence that they have been officially trained and certified. Passengers must complete this form at least 48 hours prior to departure. Dogs must be identified, sit at their handler’s seat and carry liability insurance.
KLM will allow assistance dogs to fly in the cabin at no charge. All dogs must be leashed and should be wear a harness or vest. Note that service dogs that assist with mental health conditions are only permitted on flights to or from the United States and must be older than 4 months in age. Emotional support animals are not permitted.
Owners of assistance dogs need to submit this form to KLM prior to departure and bring original document with them. All assistance dogs must be presented at the check-in desk on the day of travel.
Contact +31 800-55622737 for more information.
Singapore Airlines no longer allows emotional support dogs to fly in the cabin at no charge Service dogs are permitted on all flights. Dogs must fly at your feet without affecting cabin operations. Muzzles and leashes are not required but should be available.
All service dogs should be marked with a vest or harness or other items such as an identification card identifying it as a service dog.
No dogs included in Singapore Airlines’ banned breed list (see step #13) will be accepted as service or emotional support animals. The following breeds must be muzzled and leashed or harnessed:
- Bull Terrier
- Doberman Pinscher
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- German Shepherd Dog, Belgian Shepherd Dog, East European Shepherd Dog
- Mastiffs, including Bull Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Cane Corso and Dogue De Bordeaux
- Perro De Presa Canario
- Pit Bull, including American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog
Owners of service and emotional support animals should contact Singapore Airlines at least 2 weeks prior to departure.
Aeroflot will permit guide dogs assisting physically disabled passengers to fly in the cabin at no charge. The passenger must present a proof of disability and a document certifying the dog?s training. If the working dog is a member of the Federal Executive Authority Canine Service, the passenger accompanying the dog must present a document certifying the special training of the working dog as well as a document proving that the passenger transporting the working dog is an employee of the Federal Executive Authority Canine Service.
Emotional support animals are not recognized.
Alaska Airlines will accept your service dog without charge. Passengers should inform the customer service representative when arriving at the airport that they are flying with a service animal. Service animals must fly at their handler’s feet and behave appropriately. Dogs, cats and miniature horses are accepted as service animals.
Reservations must take place at least 48 hours in advance. Passengers can start the process here. Once you receive a SATS Service Animal ID, then you can request airline booking with a service animal.
Service dogs and fully trained psychiatric service dogs are welcome to fly on Frontier Airlines flights without charge. One service dog per passenger and dogs must be at least 4 months of age. Passengers must complete the DOT form and upload it here.
Frontier will not recognize comfort animals, companionship animals, or any other non task-trained animals as service animals
On flights to or from other locations, the following must be submitted:
- A written statement issued by a veterinarian
- A written statement describing the procedures implemented by the passenger to prevent the dog from relieving itself
- A signed statement with photographs or other illustrations of the dog’s ability to relieve itself without posing a health or sanitation problem
- A letter of undertaking stating that, should the dog relieve itself accidentally, the affected area will be thoroughly cleaned by the dog’s owner (please bring bags, napkins, wipes, etc.). All damages that may arise during travel are the passenger’s responsibility.
Service dogs must be fully trained, clean and marked as service dogs and have proof of training and certification. All relevant documentation for the destination country is required.
In the case of a service dog, all dogs must be leashed and fly at their owner’s feet. No pets are allowed to fly on a seat. A muzzle must be available should any aggressiveness be displayed. On flights over 8 hours, owners must be able to provide written instructions regarding how they have prepared for their dog to relieve itself. Owners also are responsible for any damage caused to the aircraft by their service animal.
All rabies vaccination certificates and documentation from exporting and importing countries must be available at check-in.
Vueling Airlines only recognizes assistance animals trained to serve special needs. Certification of training must be provided to staff at check-in. Dogs must be at least 3 months old. Dogs must have proof of rabies vaccination no sooner than 3 months of age and more than 30 days prior to travel. Contact their service center for more details.
LATAM will allow emotional support dogs on flights to and from Mexico and within Colombia. ESA Cats are permitted on flights within Colombia. Advance notification and supporting documentation from a physician must be provided.
Service dogs trained to assist passengers with physical disabilities, seizures and certain anxieties are permitted on all flights.
Volaris Airlines will accept emotional support dogs and cats under 26 pounds on a leash or in a carrier or kennel. Support documentation from a licensed physician must be provided. ESAs are accepted on the following routes: Within Mexico, to/from Central America, to/from South America, within Central America, within South America and to/from Central America to South America.
Service dogs are accepted on all routes at no charge.
If your airline is not listed above, you can contact us at email@example.com with any questions.