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Nov 10

Combat Veteran with PTSD Refused Air Travel With Service Dog by American Airlines

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Read More: The full article:

Service Dogs Listed on Boarding Passes:

K9 Wings has been advocating that air carriers include disabled passengers service dogs who have been pre-approved to accompany them on board their aircraft, to be either listed on their boarding pass, or that the service dog have their own boarding pass. This should eliminate situations such as what Ms. McCombs and her service dog Jake had to endure. Many airlines argue that it is the human that is being approved to fly, not the dog. But the service dog is a breathing, living entity trained to perform working tasks to mitigate their handlers disabilities, not a suitcase that is to be stowed under a seat, the overhead bin or in the belly of the aircraft. The boarding pass of pre-approval takes away the guess work of TSA officers when the service dog team goes through security checkpoints, when introducing airline gate agents to the fact you are traveling with a service dog and requesting to pre-board, and for the flight crew in case the service dog was not listed on the flight manifest.

The Need for Education:

But it does not stop there. Education is needed for everyone. The service dog owner/handler, airport staff, airline staff and TSA officers.

Education needs to include the differences between the DOT ACAA (department of transportation air carrier access act) service dog regulations, and the DOJ ADA (department of justice Americans with disabilities act) service dog laws, and where the jurisdiction of both begins and ends. When traveling on board aircraft, all passengers are under ACAA regulations, ADA has no justification on board aircraft and does not cover disabled passengers and their service dogs. ACAA regulations are slightly different in what they require of a service dog team and it is important that everyone working in the airline industry or traveling by air, has the correct understanding of them.

Service Dogs Can Legally Be Denied To Board an Aircraft for Bad Behavior:

To clarify, if a service dog has been pre-approved whether it is or is not listed on a boarding pass, does not mean that the dog cannot be denied to fly. Should the dog not be obedience trained and well behaved as defined under the DOT ACAA, the airlines has the legal right to deny access.

Throughout my travels I have been amazed at the lack of education by airport, airline and TSA staff, service dog handlers and trainers.

The Need for Clarification: 

Airlines would greatly benefit by updating and detailing their service dog policy page of their websites to help clarify information and thus decrease incorrect interpretation of DOT ACAA service dog regulations.

JetBlue Sets the Standard:

So far the airlines that has exceeded my expectations of outstanding service for disabled passengers traveling with a service dog is JetBlue. They always make sure my service dog Ellie is listed on my boarding pass, the flight manifests and every gate agent and flight crew member have gone out of their way to make sure our travels are comfortable, enjoyable and safe.

Courtesy & Respect:

Common courtesy and respect goes both ways from the service dog team and all the staff one encounters when flying. Entitlement issues should never blindside someone to where they have forgotten the golden rule of respect, for each other, regulations, laws and policies. Education is absolutely the key that reduces fear and unites an attitude of respect.

Morgance & Ellie SD

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