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Service dogs are gaining increased access to public spaces and transportation. According to USA Service Dog Registration, under federal law, businesses and non-profit organizations must allow service dogs and their handlers full access to their premises. This is excellent news for all of us who rely on our service dog to accomplish our day-to-day tasks.
Traveling with service dogs is a slightly more complicated matter. Despite it being illegal for any airline to deny you access to needed special services, there is still a slew of steps and special instructions to which you must adhere in order to travel. Without proper documentation, ample preparation, and familiarity with rules and rights, it can be impossible to travel with your service dog.
This is why In Style Pet Boutique has put together a list of helpful steps that will prepare you for successful air travel and ensure the comfort and happiness of you and your dog all along the way.
Air travel has become so common and easy, that we often take it for granted. But things are different with a service animal; whether we like it or not, traveling with a service dog requires more preparation, more time, and more effort. But it’s not impossible, and becomes much easier if you do some foreplanning. First, call the airline and understand what their specific guidelines are for traveling with a service dog. Some airlines require documentation and proof of a vet check-up. You can find a helpful summary of all American airline service dog policies on Service Dog Certifications. You will also want to find any identification cards or material which certify that your dog is, in fact, a service dog. Securing all your written material and storing it in a folder for easy access will greatly expedite your journey through the airport.
Air travel can be especially tricky with your service animal because there are many other passengers sharing close quarters with you and your canine. While most passengers respect the need for service animals, you may run into individuals who are displeased by having to travel with an animal in the cabin. In these situations, it is critical to be well versed in the laws governing service animal travel. This article from Anything Pawsible goes into great detail on the laws that protect owners of service animals, but in brief, any service animal is able to travel with their owner in the cabin and their crate stowed in the cargo hold, all free of charge. If you are told otherwise or are prevented from doing any of these things, you should contact the TSA Cares helpline.
By having a Guide Dog Harness on your service animal will help clearly identify your dog as a working animal to the other passengers so they know the dog is there to keep you safe while you travel.
If you are traveling far, be aware that direct flights are far preferable to transfers. You will save yourself and your dog the stress of disembarking and reboarding. Though your service dog is undoubtedly well behaved, some dogs still dislike flying and will prefer to avoid landing and taking off twice. If you must transfer, make sure your pet can rest and relieve themselves at the airport and has a moment to stretch their legs. Bring along some Earthbath Grooming Wipes to give your pooch a freshen-up when you’re on the ground. They’re working hard for you and deserve a little pampering when possible!
It’s a good idea to arrive at the airport plenty early to let the agents at your airline know that you are traveling with a service animal. This is a courtesy that will serve you well; they may allow you to move right to the front of the security line, to give you enough time to screen your service animal, and you are more likely to receive respectful and patient attention from the agents if you give the same to them! Remember, despite working for large corporate airlines, everyone with whom you interact is only human, and simply want to be treated with respect and kindness. Ensure your dog is satisfied during your travels and can also treat all airline personnel with kindness, by bringing along a supply of snacks. Barking Bus Animal Cookies are sure to keep your companion happy during your whole trip, and fit in with the “travel” theme nicely!
Give yourself some additional time to get through security. Both you and your service dog will have to go through the metal detector, and your dog will be patted down after you both go through. Make sure that your canine can sit and stay calmly, so this part of your journey is as simple and efficient as possible. Remember that security agents cannot ask you to remove your dog’s harness and cannot separate you from your dog. If you have a clearly marked harness, it will be obvious that they are a service animal. The No Pull Harness is a great option, and you can even customize it with patches to let others know this is a working dog to help you along on the journey!
Having a service animal means having the right to their help at all times, even when traveling by plane. At In Style Pet Boutique, we hope these tips will help you when traveling by plane with your service animal. We understand it may seem a bit daunting, but we believe if you think ahead, are patient, and inform yourself, you should be able to travel with minimal hassle.