On behalf of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Traveling doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Here’s what you can expect if you or someone you know is visually impaired and traveling with a guide or service dog.

Plan ahead
Education and preparation are key to help you and your guide dog gain confidence and a better understanding of what to expect during screening. There are services and programs such as The Guide Dog Foundation and America's VetDogs, that coordinate with airports and TSA to provide demonstrations and practices for you and your assistance dog. These live demonstrations provide guidance to you, your guide dog, and TSA officers as well.

TSA can also provide assistance to help you through airport security. Contact TSA Cares 72 hours before your scheduled flight. A passenger support specialist or a supervisory transportation security officer will arrange to meet you curbside and will help guide you through security.

Pack properly
When packing for your trip, be sure to place your travel-sized liquids in a quart-sized bag and any electronic devices larger than a cell phone, in an easily accessible area as they will need to be removed from your bag for screening. Liquids over 3.4 ounces are not allowed through security, however, the rule does not apply if you are traveling with liquid medications. TSA allows larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in reasonable quantities for your trip, but you must declare them to TSA officers at the checkpoint for inspection.

When in doubt, consider checking your bag. The fewer items you have to go through security screening with the easier it may be for you and your guide dog to go through security. On the plus side, by checking in your bag you won’t have to worry about any items accidentally being left behind at the checkpoint.

Prepare for screening
Being prepared promotes success and helps the screening process go smoothly.  First, at no point doing the screening process will you be separated from your guide dog.

Unless you have TSA Pre✓®, you will be asked to remove your jacket, belt, and shoes for screening. If you are unable to remove these items, you will require additional screening.

Apply now to get TSA Pre✓®  on your next trip.

Although you don’t have to remove your dog’s harness and leash, be prepared for your guide dog to receive additional screening if you decide to leave these items on.

Additional screening may include being screened for explosives trace detection, a walk-through metal detector, and/or a pat-down. If by chance you or your dog sets off an alarm during screening, then you will get a pat-down conducted by an officer of the same gender as you present yourself. Before the start of a pat-down, the officer will walk you through the process, which includes an officer using their hands to conduct a physical inspection of you and your dog. Reminder, communication is key!

  • An officer will first ask for your permission before touching your guide dog.
  • At no point of the screening process will you be asked to be separated from your guide dog or be asked to remove your guide dog’s harness or vest.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the officer to use a new pair of gloves.
  • Do remember that you can always request to speak with a supervisor or request a private screening accompanied by a companion of your choice.

Request assistance
Need more information? We have a team ready to answer your questions @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on ET on weekends. You may also email the TSA Contact Center or call (866) 289-9673. Representatives are available 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 pm. ET, weekends are 9 to 7p.m. ET.

For additional travel tips, please visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips.

America's VetDogs Position on New ACAA Rules

Dear friend of America's VetDogs, 

We hope this message finds you and your family safe and healthy during these difficult times. We understand the daily challenges faced to the ever-changing landscape brought on by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis, however, we ask that you please take a moment to review the position of America's VetDogs to address the new proposed rules to the (ACAA) Air Carrier Access Act for traveling by air with service animals.

We encourage you to send your comments as well.  If you agree with the comments from America's VetDogs, use them in your submission. Be heard!  Comments MUST be filed before April 6, 2020 11:59 PM ET. Click here to leave your comment today! 

This is our opportunity as a community to ensure flying with assistance dogs is more accessible and safer for all our graduate teams.

  • America's VetDogs strongly supports the Department’s proposed Definition of a Service Animal align with the definition of that of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so only dogs, that have been individually trained to perform tasks for the benefits of a qualified individual with a disability; including a physical, sensory, intellectual or psychiatric disability, will be considered a service animal. This will decrease confusion and enhance the safety of passengers and crew. We also strongly support the proposal that psychiatric service dogs, because they are trained for public access and tasks to mitigate their partners disabilities, be treated as all other service dogs, not as emotional support animals.

  • America's VetDogs supports the proposed definition that Emotional Support Animals be recognized as pets by the airlines and be subject to the airline regulations required for flying with pets. Emotional support animals have not been trained to perform tasks that mitigate their partners disability nor for public access. They are not prepared for the situations that they may face when traveling by air or to handle the various stimuli experienced. Because of this, they are more likely to misbehave, cause a disturbance or have accidents than highly trained and desensitized service dogs.

  • America's VetDogs supports the Definition of a Service Animal Handler as the person who is benefiting from the help of the service dog. America's VetDogs also supports a third party “caregiver” in cases where a service dog is helping a disabled person or child who needs extra support with his or her service dog.

  • America's VetDogs does not support the DOT’s proposed ruling regarding Large Service Animals. Most service dogs are able to curl up under their partner’s feet on an airplane. There are some individuals with disabilities however that need a larger service dog to perform tasks to assist them when walking or to help them up when they fall. They cannot utilize a smaller dog to mitigate their disabilities as the small size would prohibit this. Those traveling with larger service dogs should be afforded the same comforts as the general public.
     
    We ask that the DOT continue to advise airlines to seat passengers traveling with a service animal in a location on the aircraft where the larger service dog can be accommodated, such as next to an empty seat. If that is not possible, other passengers can be asked if they mind sharing foot space with a larger service dog upon checking in.

    The passenger should not be booked on a later flight just because they have a large service dog and we firmly believe that no animal should ever be separated from its partner and placed within the cargo hold.

  • America's VetDogs disagrees with the DOT that one person should be able to fly with two service dogs. There should only be one service animal traveling with a person. This is not a practice that is endorsed by any accredited service dog programs in North America or utilized by legitimate service dog teams. If a person has multiple disabilities, one service dog can be trained to do multiple things to mitigate that person’s disabilities.

  • America's VetDogs agrees with DOT that the airlines should be able to ascertain if an animal is not under the control of its handler, and poses a direct threat to the travel or safety of other passengers. Also, all service dogs should be under control and encourage the definition of under control as being harnessed, leashed, or tethered. As a dually accredited organization by IGDF and ADI, the Guide Dog Foundation welcomes the opportunity to instruct the airline employees in appropriate service dog behavior.

  • America's VetDogs does not support the DOT proposed rule to allow airlines to require forms, as they will undoubtedly be an additional hardship for individuals who travel with a service animal.

    Instead we recommend that checkboxes, to be completed when making a reservation, be utilized. When individuals with service animals check the boxes, they are certifying that their service dog is a tasked trained animal required for a disability, that their service animal is trained for public access and that they understand that falsely representing this animal as a service dog is a crime. Through the use of checkboxes, the handler can also attest to the health of their service dog and provide a relief attestation for flights over eight hours. 

    In order to assure that individuals with disabilities are afforded the same experience when traveling, it is imperative that airlines insure full accessibility of their websites, apps and communication. Regardless of the attestations, America's VetDogs supports the removal of any dogs that are not under control and misbehaving.

  • America's VetDogs believes that health forms are grossly unnecessary and would not provide any additional information that the check box attestation and rabies information (tag number, veterinarian’s name and number and expiration date), provides at time of booking.
  • America's VetDogs strongly disagrees with the DOT proposed rule to require those with service animals to check in 1 hour before the general public. This practice would cause an unjust burden on individuals with disabilities utilizing service dogs that the general public does not have to endure. In addition, individuals with disabilities would be segregated from the general public and their traveling party. A person with a disability is entitled to the same rights and opportunities as the general public, including checking in online 24 hours in advance, skipping the check in line if not checking a bag ,and remaining with his or her travel party throughout the entire airport stay.

Send in your comments before April 6, 2020 11:59 PM ET. Click here to leave your comment.