Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The term “service animal” can cause uncertainty among anyone not familiar with its legal definition. This can result in conflict when it comes to expectations and accommodations in public or with airline travel. As currently stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is defined as a dog specifically trained to perform tasks that assist its handler.

A fully-trained service dog is covered under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and allowed to travel on board an airline with its handler. Any other animal is not protected by the ACAA and classified as a pet under federal law.

Not everyone considers dogs to be the only animal that warrants classification as service animals. Many people with disabilities rely on miniature horses as service animals to perform specific tasks to assist them. Until recently, some airlines did accommodate miniature horses to travel with their handler in the airplane’s cabin. But due to growing controversy in terms of people bringing pets onboard planes, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has amended the ACAA. Miniature horses are no longer protected by federal law to fly with their handler in the cabin.

Only Dogs Recognized as Service Animals

As of January of 2021, the DOT has implemented new regulations on the air travel of service animals. This ruling is intended to both protect the public’s safety and the accessibility of people with disabilities. The new ruling only accepts dogs as service animals and excludes all other animal species, regardless of their handler’s disability or the tasks they perform to mitigate the disability.

A service animal can be any dog breed specifically trained to do work or tasks to assist an individual with a physical, emotional, mental, or other disability. Any other animal is recognized as a pet and must adhere to the airline’s policies for pets.

While Miniature Horses may be the preferred service animal for some individuals with a disability, the new DOT rules do not recognize them as service animals for airline travel. Why Are Miniature Horses Not Allowed to Fly as Service Animals?

The DOT did consider a proposal to recognize miniature horses, among other species, as service animals. Miniature horses can be trained and be beneficial to certain handlers in ways that may be preferable to dogs. For example, miniature horses are an alternative for handlers who are allergic to dogs. They also have a longer lifespan, provide greater physical stability, and possess a very calm nature.

However, the DOT’s decision reflects the fact that service animals most commonly are dogs. In addition, dogs are suited to air travel due to their focus on performing tasks in public settings. There is logic to this ruling, and it helps ensure the safety of fellow passengers and flight crews. Service dogs are required to be harnessed or leashed when in an aircraft cabin. Larger animals, such as miniature horses, may pose safety risks to those on board and to the animal itself in an aircraft cabin.

Individual airlines can choose to transport other animals, including miniature horses, for free in the cabin to accompany a person with disabilities. However, if the service animal is not a dog, there are no guaranteed protections or accommodations under federal law for the animal or its handler. Service animals other than a dog is considered a pet and subject to the airline’s pet policies.

While federal law states that miniature horses are not accepted service animals for air travel, there might be a chance that an airline’s assistance animals policy overwrites the rules. Therefore, any individual with disabilities who is assisted by a service miniature horse should thoroughly check the airline’s policy before making travel arrangements.

If you plan on traveling, you might find yourself making arrangements to fly with your service dog. Although service dogs are protected by federal laws, flying with your service dog still takes some preparation. The following are a few pointers on how to fly on Delta Airlines with a service dog. 

About Delta Airlines

As the world’s most awarded airline, you may fly with Delta Airlines at least once in your lifetime. In 2021, Delta ranked No. 1 in J.D. Power and Associates North America Airline Satisfaction Study. Delta helps 200 million fly each year, with over 50 countries and 300 destinations in their network. 

Laws that Protect Your Service Dog While Traveling

With so many routes to choose from, Delta Airline may just have the destination you’re planning to fly to with your service dog. When you travel, two federal laws apply to you and your service dog: 

The Americans with Disabilities Act The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of people with disabilities, which includes the service dogs that work for them. Unlike pets, emotional support animals, and therapy dogs, service dogs receive specific training to fulfill a task required by a person with a disability.  Service dogs are necessary for the safety and well-being of their handler.  The Air Carrier Access ActThe Air Carrier Access Act (ACA) protects the rights of individuals to have their service dog accompany them while they travel. Pet fees and regulations don’t apply to service dogs. 

Despite these laws, airlines may require notification and preparation before a service dog boards its flight. These requirements aren’t meant to make traveling with a service dog a challenge; Instead, they help streamline the traveling process and ensure safety for everyone. 

Know how to fly with your service dog on Delta Airlines prior to making any flight bookings. Flying With Your Service Dog On Delta Airlines

Currently, Delta Airlines only accepts service dogs and psychiatric service dogs. Other service animals are not allowed to fly as service animals on any Delta flights. Therefore, pet fees and regulations apply to non-canine service animals. 

Delta no longer accepts emotional support dog (ESA) reservations as of January 11, 2021. Only service dogs are covered under ADA and ACA laws. Each customer may fly with, at the most, two trained service dogs

Step1: Vaccinations and Relief 

The completion of two documents is required before flying on Delta Airlines with your service dog. 

The U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Travel FormThe U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Travel Form attests to the service dog’s health, behavior, and training. The form must be submitted before flying on Delta with a service animal. For flights booked 48 hours or more before the departure time, the form is provided to Delta through the Accessibility Request form on the My Trips webpage. For flights booked less than 48 hours from departure, the U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Travel Form is submitted at the check-in counter or the gate of departure.  The DOT Relief Attestation FormThe DOT Relief Attestation Form is submitted for flights lasting 8 hours or more. On this form, the service dog handler attests that the dog can relieve itself in a sanitary manner or, preferably, will not relieve itself while on the airplane.  Step 2: Space Considerations 

When traveling with a service dog, Delta Airlines asks customers to select a seat that can accommodate the dog comfortably. The service dog must be seated on the floor below the seat or, if small enough, on their handler’s lap. Service dogs are not allowed to sit in a seat or consume food off of the tray tables. For FAA safety reasons, service dogs may not extend into the aisle or reach into another customer’s space. 

A service dog may not extend past the footprint of the assigned seat of their handler. If the dog is too large or may become an obstruction, the handler may check the service animal as baggage without charge. Otherwise, the handler may purchase a second ticket at the same rate for the service animal — however, a seat on the flight depends on availability at the time.

Step 3: Extra Time to Check-In and Board

Allow for extra time to check-in and board when traveling with a service animal. The additional documents and accommodations may delay your boarding process, and it’s best to have a generous window of time to fulfill all requirements. 

Additionally, it’s a good idea to let your service dog relieve itself before any flight, no matter how long. All U.S. airports have a designated animal relief area. This will help prevent unnecessary accidents and embarrassment.

Quarantine Requirements for Dogs

Due to quarantine requirements and laws, some locations may not permit the entry of animals — even service animals. Check the animal requirements of your destination prior to booking the flight. 

Service Dog Behavior

Delta may refuse to accommodate a service dog if it exhibits any of the following behaviors: 

Growling or biting Jumping on others people Urinating or defecating in the gate area or the cabin Barking excessively Consuming items off the tray tables Flying on Delta With Your Service Dog

Customers who have additional questions about flying with a service dog on Delta Airlines can contact them directly by calling Delta’s customer service at 404-209-3434.

Widely known for its excellent customer service, Southwest Airlines is one of the most preferred airlines in the United States. If you’re one of their lucky customers and have a service dog, you’ll find that Southwest Airlines accommodates service dog owners exceptionally well. That said, you may still want to familiarize yourself with the Southwest Airlines service dog policy to ensure a smooth travel process. 

About Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airline’s award-winning customer service and employee satisfaction are what the company is known for. Southwest consistently ranks high on FORTUNE’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies. The airline also lands routinely on J.D. Power’s top companies for customer service. As an employer, its remarkable dedication to employees ranks the company on the Forbes Best Employer list year after year. 

With this kind of reputation for excellence, you know you’ll be traveling with your service dog in comfort on Southwest. 

Laws that Protect Your Service Dog While Traveling

As with all US airlines, two federal laws protect you when traveling with your service dog: 

1. Americans with Disabilities Act 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets service dogs apart from pets and protects the rights of people with disabilities. Unlike pets, service dogs undergo extensive training to perform specific tasks for people who have a disability

2. Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACA) enables people who have a disability to travel with their service dogs. The airline fees and regulations which apply to pets do not apply to service dogs. 

Although these laws exist, airlines may still request prior notification and documentation before flying with a service dog. Prior notice enables the airline to make the reasonable accommodations necessary to fly with a service dog. 

Before booking a flight on Southwest Airlines with your service dog get to know their service dog policy. How to Fly With Your Service Dog On Southwest Airlines

Pets, emotional support animals, and therapy animals do not qualify under the existing ACA laws. Because of those changes in federal regulations, Southwest only accepts trained service dogs for travel. 

Service dogs are individually trained to perform a task for a person with a disability and are welcome to fly the cabin with their handler. Southwest Airlines only recognizes dogs as service animals. Other non-canine service animals must fly as pets. 

Step 1: Booking a Flight 

When traveling with a service animal, Southwest allows customers to notify the airline in advance through the “Special Assistance” link, which is accessible through the Passenger & Payment page (when booking online) or by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) before the travel date. 

Step 2: Filling Out the Form

Southwest Airlines requires completing the U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Travel Form before flying with a service dog. If you purchase your ticket in advance, you must submit your form at least 48 hours in advance to Southwest.

U.S. DOT Service Animal Travel Form

The U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Travel Form attests to the health, training, and behavior of the service dog that is traveling. The U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Travel Form must be completed accurately and presented at the gate or ticket counter before boarding on the day of travel. The form is available on the Southwest Airlines website and at airports. 

Southwest Airlines requires a U.S. DOT Service Animal Form dated on the ticket purchase date or afterward. Be especially careful to thoroughly complete the form, as an incomplete form is grounds for denial of transport. Southwest does not allow you to replace the form by simply using an ID card, registration, or service animal vest.

Step 3: Arriving at the Airport 

At the airport, the individual traveling with the trained service dog must present the U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Travel Form to the ticket counter or gate agent. Keep in mind that the gate agent will not ask you to disclose your disability but may ask fact-finding questions as to what tasks your service dog performs. 

Step 4: Boarding and In-Flight

As with all airlines, space and safety are vitally important. The following regulations apply to service dogs while on-board: 

Individuals with service dogs may not sit in an emergency exit seat.  The service dog can not obstruct the exit of their handler or others in the event of an emergency.  If traveling with an animal carrier, the carrier must be safely stowed under the seat in front of the handler while the plane is taking off, landing, or taxiing.  A service dog may sit on the customer’s lap as long as the animal is no larger than two-year-old.  The service dog may not obstruct the aisle or occupy a seat.  The service dog may not consume food off the tray tables.  Service dogs who are disruptive, aggressive, or pose a safety or health issue may be asked to travel as pets.  Other Considerations When Flying with a Service Dog on Southwest

Some locations may have additional health regulations for dogs, so do check the animal requirements for your destination. In addition, all U.S. airports have animal relief stations available. Feel free to have your animal utilize a relief station before and after flying.

For more information on how to fly with a service dog on Southwest Airlines, take a look at the customer service site or call 1-800-I-FLY-SWA.