Flying With Your Service Dog: What You Need to Know

Written By Jack

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Service dogs are important companions for people with physical, medical, and psychological disabilities, and they often require special accommodations when traveling. But navigating the process of flying with a service dog can be confusing and time-consuming. From what documents you need to how service dogs go through TSA, there are a lot of details to consider before taking a flight with your four-legged friend. In this article, we’ll provide all the information you need to make the process of flying with your service dog as smooth and stress-free as possible.

What documents do airlines need for service dogs?

Travelling with a service dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience, however there are certain steps that must be taken before embarking on your journey. Most airlines require official documentation confirming the animal’s status as a service animal to insure that all passengers coexist peacefully in the cabin.

When it comes to passing through security, you and your animal will be screened by either a walk-through metal detector or Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT). You may choose to walk through yourself with your pet, or lead it through separately on a leash. Alternatively, if you turn down being screened by the AIT or WTMD, you may opt for a pat-down.

Regardless of the screening choice, all service animals must have the necessary documents handy. Here is a list of what’s required:

  • Proof of Vetting and Vaccination: Airlines usually ask for proof that your pet has been vaccinated and is up to date with vet check-ups.
  • Behaviour Reference Letter: Ane airlines require a letter from your veterinarian affirming that your pet is well behaved and poses no risk to other passengers.
  • Service Animal Training Certification: Official documentation must be provided verifying your pet’s trained profession in order to ensure it is not just a pet accompanying you on the flight.
  • Health Certificate: If your flight is longer than 8 hours, or crosses international borders, then proof of health must also be provided for your animal.

It is always important to review the specific airline’s regulations prior to travelling as policies may vary. Should you have any questions or concerns, contact the customer service department at least 72 hours prior to departure so they can advise you accordingly.

Verifying the validity of service animals for air travel

When it comes to taking their service animals along on board flights, passengers may have a few questions about the process involved. It’s important for passengers to be aware that airlines may require certain forms of verification before allowing service animals onboard.

Specifically, airlines may need to see two types of documents. The first is a U.S. DOT form attesting to the animal’s health, behavior, and training. This is important especially in light of the recent updates to the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act (ACPA). The second document they might want to see is a U.S. DOT form attesting that the animal can either not relieve itself or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner.

This is especially important for flights that are 8 or more hours long, since it prevents a messy cabin mid-way. With this documentation, airlines are able to exercise caution and accountability when it comes to allowing pets and service animals onto their planes.

Most commonly, this documentation should be provided at least 4 days prior to the scheduled flight. These forms are widely available from veterinarians, carpetbaggers, and other government offices, so if you’re looking for these forms it’s best to consult an expert.

Steps to follow

  • Check with your airline, beforehand, as they will often require specific types of documentation.
  • Contact your veterinarian or other sources, such as jetpetcarriers or other government offices to acquire the necessary forms and fill them out.
  • Submit your forms 4 days prior, as most airlines require this type of paperwork at least 4 days ahead of time.

As long as you provide all the required documents and information, you’ll be granted permission for your beloved pet or service animal onboard the flight!

The ABCs of bringing a furry friend onboard an airplane

When you’re planning a vacation and your service animal needs to come along, it’s important to know what rules and regulations apply. Flying with a service dog is similar to traveling with Fido as a pet, with some extra considerations.

The airline will require your dog to wear a harness, leash, or tether, depending on their individual policy. These measures are essential to ensure the safety of passengers and crew while in-flight. Even if the use of any of these items is not possible due to your disability, they are still expected to be used.

Although there are restrictions on how much luggage you can take, the animal can travel completely free of charge. The animal does need certain documents, such as proof of vaccination and a health check certificate for international trips. Most airlines request that at least 48 hours prior to flight departure.

When you’re on board the aircraft it’s imperative that the trainer or handler keeps their service dog under control at all times. In general, your dog must stay on the floor at your feet or on your lap during the flight. Depending on their size, the airline may require that they be transported in an approved carrier instead.

Some conditions apply for certain breeds of dogs. For example, brachycephalic breeds (with a snub nose) cannot travel in temperatures exceeding 84°F without air conditioning.

Also keep things like treats and toys in mind when packing – they might be necessary while spending long hours confined to coach.


Here are some tips for making your travels stress-free:


  • Call the airline ahead of time so that they’re prepared for your arrival
  • Make sure all vaccination and health certificates are up-to-date
  • Pack enough treats and toys in case the flight gets delayed
  • Organise an approved carrier beforehand
  • Keep your service dog away from other pets

what documents do airlines need for service dogs

Sailing through TSA with your service dog

Bringing a service dog or animal along for your travels can be tricky. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for safely screening travelers and their service animals at airport security. To make sure your pet makes it through the screening process with no issues, here’s what you need to know.

  • Walk-Through Metal Detector – You and your service dog/animal will be screened by a walk-through metal detector. You may walk through together or you may lead the animal through separately on a leash.
  • Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) – If you opt not to be screened by the AIT, or a walk-through metal detector (WTMD), you will undergo a pat-down.

It’s important to keep in mind that while you may pass through the metal detector with your pet, there are still additional steps that need to be taken. Your pet will also have to be checked visually by a TSA agent to verify that it is a legitimate service animal.

You’ll want to arrive extra early for your flight, as passengers with service animals must go through the standard TSA screenings before being permitted to enter the secure area of the terminal. To save time on the day of travel, it’s best to contact your airline in advance and let them know that you’ll be bringing along your service animal. This way they can note that information on your ticket.

Remember: only trained and certified service animals are allowed at airports, so make sure your pet is wearing an identification vest with all of its identification tags and any other necessary certification.

By following these steps, you can help ensure that both you and your service animal make it safely and securely through TSA security. Happy travels!

A look at TSA Pre Check when traveling with a service dog

The answer is yes! Passengers traveling with service animals can go through TSA PreCheck along with their furry, feathered, or scaly friends. However, they must be aware that additional screening may be necessary, including a thorough pat-down.

When going through TSA PreCheck, the passenger and their service animal can walk through at the same time and the service animal will not have to be put through the X-ray machine. However, due to the important job that service animals do for people with disabilities, it is necessary for security personnel to ensure that no prohibited items are brought into the secure area of an airport by performing additional screening.

The pat-down of a service animal should only be conducted by a handler or another trained professional. Handlers performing this procedure should avoid touching the service animal’s face and instead focus on feeling for any suspicious items. The handler should also speak to the service animal in a calm and reassuring manner.

In order to get TSA PreCheck clearance for your pet, you must obtain a certification from a government-accredited certifying organization. These organizations provide certificates which state that the animal is well-trained and qualified to participate in public transportation settings without exhibiting aggressive behavior.. The certificate must also include information about the individual’s disability or medical condition as well as how that disability affects their ability to travel without assistance.

It’s important to remember that different airports may have different policies regarding service animals. Before you fly, it’s best to check with your airline or airport ahead of time to get exact details on their guidelines and restrictions so you can ensure your travel experience goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Make sure you have a certificate from an accredited certifying organization
  • Be aware that additional screening may occur
  • Respect airport policies regarding service animals

Flying First Class with your four-legged companion

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are welcome on most flights flying to and from the United States, and are also permitted in first class. This also applies to Service Animals, which don’t need to be contained in a pet carrier or other air travel containment device. Many airlines have adopted pet friendly policies that make it easy for people with Service Animals to fly with them, regardless of the seating.

It’s important for those travelling with Service Animals to remember that all animals must be clean, healthy and well-behaved during travel. Most airlines require proof of immunization records and/or specific documents depending on the type of animal being taken as well.

When flying with a Service Animal, you’ll need to provide your airline with information about the animal, including:

  • Type of animal: Whether you are taking a dog, cat, or another type of animal.
  • Animal health: Of what is required depending on the airline; typically up-to-date vaccinations as pets are exposed to many other animals and environments while traveling.
  • Travel documents: If you are traveling internationally this may include documentation such as import permits and export certificates.
  • Behavior: Some airlines will place restrictions on animals if their behavior is deemed disruptive.

No matter if your service dog is in the cabin or in their own approved travel kennel, they can join you in first class — always. You simply have to make sure that you bring all of the required documents to fly with your animal prior to boarding your flight.