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More Than a School...A Philosophy of Life.

Helpful Tips for Traveling by Air with a Dog Guide

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prohibits discrimination in air transportation by domestic and foreign air carriers against passengers with dog guides and other service animals.  It applies only to air carriers that provide regularly scheduled services-for-hire to the public.

Under the ACAA, U.S. airlines are required to allow service dogs to travel in the passenger cabin with their owners.  Carriers shall permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in any seat in which the person sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed in order to facilitate an emergency evacuation or to comply with FAA regulations.  Passengers requesting an advance seat assignment (a priority seat such as a bulkhead seat or aisle seat) should notify the airline up to 24 hours before departure.  If a dog guide cannot be accommodated at the owner’s seat, the carrier shall offer the passenger the opportunity to move with the animal to a 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 or waiting until a later flight.  No additional fees may be charged for the service animal or for airport assistance when making connections.

Passengers who feel they have been discriminated against by the airline can request assistance from a Complaint Resolution Officer (CRO).  Each airline is required to have a CRO at each airport it serves.  If there are legitimate safety reasons, a decision the CRO makes based on your complaint can be overruled by the pilot-in-command.

The rights of disabled air travelers are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, particularly with respect to discrimination in airport facilities.  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for screening air travelers to ensure that certain items and persons prohibited from flying don’t board commercial airliners. 

No special requirements are needed for dog guides to fly from state to state except when traveling to Hawaii.  Because of the absence of rabies on the Hawaiian Islands, the travel requirements for Seeing Eye dogs entering the state are strictly regulated.

If you are taking your Seeing Eye dog to another country, contact that country’s consulate or embassy for information about regulations or any entry or access requirements that you must meet.  Be aware that some requirements must be completed months before you plan to depart, and some countries do not accept service animals at all.  Also, some Animal Health Import Procedures prohibit bringing pet food into certain countries.

Entry requirements vary from country to country.  Dog guides are often required to have an appropriate microchip, proof of rabies vaccination and successful blood testing.  Third country official veterinary certificates for traveling to European Union countries or any other documents relating to traveling with dog guides must be completed by an APHIS Accredited Veterinarian.

Seeing Eye dogs taken out of the United States must have a certificate showing they have been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to reentry into the United States.

For more information, contact The Seeing Eye Advocacy Council toll-free at 1-800-539-4425 or email advocacy@seeingeye.org.

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