News from Northwest ADA Center – Idaho
Advice on Passengers with Service Animals
Ask about the airline’s policy on advance seat assignments for people with disabilities. For instance (1) should a passenger request pre-boarding at the gate? (2) should a passenger request an advance seat assignment with priority seat such as bulkhead or aisle up to 24 hours before departure? (3) should a passenger request advance seat assignment at the gate on the day of departure?
Although airlines are not permitted to automatically require documentation for service animals other than emotional support animals, if you think it would help you explain the need for a service animal you may want to carry documentation from your doctor or other licensed professional confirming your need for the service animal. Passengers with unusual service animals may want to carry documentation confirming the animal has been trained to perform a function or task.
If you are traveling with an emotional support animal, you may be required by the airline to provide 48 ours advance notice.
If you need a specific seat assignment for yourself and your service animal, make your reservation as far in advance as possible.
You may have to be flexible if your assigned seat unexpectedly turns out to be in an emergency exit row. When an aircraft is changed at the last minute, seating may be reassigned automatically.
Automatic systems generally do not recognize special needs, and may make inappropriate seat assignments. In that case, you may be required by FAA regulations to move to another seat.
Arrive at the gate when instructed by the airline, typically at least one hour before departure, and ask the gate agent for pre-boarding – if that is your desire.
Remember that your assigned seat may be reassigned if you fail to check in on time; airlines typically release seat assignments not claimed 30 minutes before scheduled departure. In addition, if you fail to check in on time you may not be able to take advantage of the airline’s pre-board offer.
If you have a very large service animal or multiple animals that might need to be transported in the cargo compartment, contact the airline well in advance of your travel date. In most cases, airlines cannot insist on advance notice, except for emotional support animals or on health certificates for service animals (per ACAA). However, it is very useful for passengers to contact the airline well in advance to transport one or more animals in the cargo department.
The passenger will need to understand airline policy and should find out what documents the carrier will need to ensure safe passage of the service animal in the cargo compartment. (temperature conditions that might limit live animal transport)
Dana Gover, MPA, and ACTCP Certification, ADA Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator
For more information about ADA Technical Assistance visit the NW ADA Center Idaho website: nwadacenter.org/idaho
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 711