While some airlines don’t accept pet cats or dogs to fly in the cabin or hold, all airlines permit trained Assistance and Service Dogs to fly free of charge in the cabin. Normally, Assistance Dogs are accepted on most routes offered by an airline. However, some countries don’t permit even trained and registered Assistance Dogs to arrive in the cabin of a plane.
Emotional Support Animals, Psychiatric Service Dogs and Assistance Dogs
Emotional Support and Comfort Animals (ESAs) are no longer recognised as Assistance or Service Dogs. This is due to the fact that ESAs are unlikely to have undergone any task based training.
However, as Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSVDs) are suitably trained to perform a specific task for their owner, you can travel with a PSVD through their Assistance & Service Dog policy, on flights to and from the USA.
For an Assistance or Service Dog to be formally recognised and permitted to fly in the cabin free of charge, the dog must have received training from an affiliate of one of the following organisations:
What documentation do I need to travel with an Assistance or Service Dog?
If you’re flying with an Assistance Dog, you will be asked to provide evidence of the qualifying training when you check in for the flight. As a rule, airlines will require the following:
- That your Assistance or Service Dog be individually trained in a specific task, or tasks, to assist you with your disability or medical condition
- You have documentary evidence confirming that your dog has been trained as an Assistance Dog
- Your Assistance Dog must wear an identifying jacket or harness
- Your Assistance Dog must remain under your control at all times
Some airlines may have additional requirements, for example, that your dog wears a muzzle for the duration of the flight and remains on a lead. And most airlines will state that your dog cannot occupy a passenger seat, and must sit on the floor at your feet in the cabin. To protect passenger safety onboard, Assistance Dogs can’t block the aisle, and you won’t be able to occupy an Emergency Exit row.
So it’s important to familiarise yourself with your selected airline’s pet travel policy for Assistance Dogs.
Also, be sure to comply with standard pet travel scheme regulations, as well as the laws of the country you are visiting. And remember to ensure your Assistance Dog is fully protected against any foreign illnesses before you travel.
You can find everything you need to know about flying with your Assistance Dog in our aviation pages!