Once, even pigs could fly the friendly skies. Now, it’s all gone to the dogs.
A new rule from the Department of Transportation now officially restricts the definition of service animals traveling with airline passengers with a disability to be dogs. More specifically, the rule states the service animal must be “a dog, regardless of breed or type, 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.”
The 122-page rule was issued to help address a litany of concerns—from complaints, flight disruptions, and incidents to inconsistent definitions and fraud—as well as a congressional mandate seeking clarity and standardization about how service animals on planes should be reasonably interpreted.
Under the new guidelines, airlines do not have to recognize “emotional support animals” and can treat them as pets—subject to additional fees and other travel restrictions. Carriers are also allowed to limit service animals traveling with a single passenger to two, can require the animal “to fit on their handler’s lap or within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft,” and can require that the dog be leashed or tethered on the plane or in the airport.
To learn more about how the changes might affect you, read the “Traveling by Air With Service Animals” rule here.