The Americans with Disabilities Act protects your rights to travel with your Service Dog. Although no one should bar your entry when traveling with your Service Dog, being informed about the regulations for each type of travel and being prepared can make for a smoother trip.
The TSA has universal guidelines for traveling with Service Dogs. As long as your dog does not obstruct the aisle or another emergency area, it is illegal for an airline to charge you additional fees. When you go through security at the airport, you should inform the TSA agent that your dog is a Service Dog and not a pet. Depending on the airline, you may be asked to provide official documentation for your Service Dog.
Your Service Dog will have to pass through the same screening process as you and all other passengers, so they will either go through the metal detector with you or be pat down. TSA officers should ask permission before interacting with your dog, but you will be required to keep your Service Dog under control at all times.
If you are treated unfairly—for example, if TSA personnel ask to separate you and your dog, or if you experience any other problems going through security—you should request to speak to a supervisor. You can also file a complaint by sending a message to TSA.ODPO@dhs.gov. You should send them a brief description of what happened and include your name, address, phone number, email address, the date/time you went through the security checkpoint, the name of the airport, the name of the airline, your flight number, and your departure gate. You can also call The DOT’s Disability Hotline at 1-800-778-4838.
It’s always smart to inform your airline that you will be traveling with your Service Dog at least 48 hours before your trip. In fact, the most important step before flying with your Service Dog is to contact your airline before you travel. For regulations specific to your airline, read more here.
Always budget extra time to go through security. It’s also wise to visit the airport’s pet relief area before checking in and going through security.
At the gate, you should inform the attendants that you are traveling with a Service Dog. Once on the plane, the airline may ask you to move if you are assigned a seat in an exit row or near a passenger who is allergic to dogs. It is their responsibility to accommodate you and any passengers who are allergic.
If you are traveling internationally, it is especially important to find out that country’s specific rules, as some (mostly island) countries may quarantine your Service Dog.
Sometimes train travel is more convenient, especially if you or your Service Dog aren’t the biggest fans of heights. You can travel with your Service Dog on Amtrak. As always, your Service Dog must remain in your control.
Amtrak personnel may only ask what task(s) your Service Dog performs. You may walk your Service Dog at station stops if the train schedule permits, but it’s a good idea to inform the conductor when you first board. Your Service Dog must remain on the floor; they are not permitted on the train seats.
You can make a reservation to travel with your Service Dog at Amtrak.com or at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245). They can reserve an accessible seat or space for you and your Service Dog, if you’d like, and give you information about station stops. For TTY service, call 1-800-523-6590.
Ride-share apps such as Uber or Lyft are required to accommodate your service animal. Drivers may not deny service or otherwise discriminate against passengers with Service Dogs. It is against the law for a driver to deny service to riders with Service Dogs, even if they are allergic, have religious objections, or are afraid of animals. Both Lyft’s policy and Uber’s policy are extremely clear on these points.
If you prefer to give the driver a heads up, you could give the driver a call once your ride is accepted to let them know you will be traveling with a Service Dog.
If you’ve been denied a ride or would like to report a problem, you can call Lyft’s Service Animal Hotline at 1-844-554-1297 or file an online complaint with Uber here.
You are 100% within your rights to stay at any motel or hotel with your Service Dog. By law, guests with disabilities who are accompanied by service animals cannot be isolated, restricted to certain guestrooms, or barred from areas where other guests are permitted. Hotels are also not allowed to impose extra fees for your Service Dog, unless your dog damages the property.
Hotel employees may only ask you the two questions permitted by the ADA: if your dog is required because of a disability, and what task your dog has been trained to perform for you. They cannot ask for documentation or proof of your disability or your Service Dog’s training.
It could be a good idea to bring your dog’s bed and collapsible crate for emergencies.
All cruise-ship carriers based in the U.S. must allow you to travel with your Service Dog. This list is a good resource for carrier-specific regulations.
Like in all public areas, Service Dogs are permitted to accompany you everywhere other guests are allowed, including dining venues. They must use a leash, harness, or tether. They are not permitted in pools, whirlpools, or spas.
It’s important to speak to the cruise line about your Service Dog as far in advance as possible.
Even though hotel employees, airline attendants, and other people you may encounter on your travels are not technically allowed to ask you for documentation, having it available may facilitate your experience. Not everyone has been adequately trained with information on people with disabilities and Service Dogs, and they may make your experience a hassle. Additionally, visual markers that your dog is not a pet, but is indeed working, such as Service Dog vests and IDs, could eliminate the need for nosy conversations at all.
Registering your Service Dog with USA Service Dogs will help make the entire travel process easier and simpler. Simply provide basic information like your name, your dog’s name, and your condition, and select which registration kit you’d like.
Your registration with USA Service Dogs is fast, easy, and 100% compliant. It’s valid for the lifetime of your dog and can be looked up anytime, anywhere. It also includes 24/7 customer service, 365 days a year, so no matter when you’re traveling you can have knowledgeable support if you encounter any problems. Register your Service Dog now and always feel confident when you travel with your Service Dog.