New DOT Regulations on Service Animals when Flying

New DOT Regulations on Service Animals when Flying

June 4, 2018 12:00 pm Published by

Beagle service animal in an airport

In recent months, social media posts have surfaced and gone viral about questionable service animals on flights. An example of this is an emotional support peacock that was denied boarding a United Airlines flight in January 2018. Since then and due to other similar service animal incidents, there has been an increase in public concern about inappropriate or excessive use of the terms “service animal” and “emotional support animal”, mainly questioning their validity. Back in November 2017, we explored three areas of interest concerning such animals, namely in the workplace, in school, and in public. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is now requesting input from the public about amending current service animal regulations as outlined by the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (ACAA). Here’s what you need to know:


ACAA deems it unlawful for commercial airlines to discriminate against passengers with disabilities. Enacted in 1986, ACAA is an amendment to the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (FAA), which itself was repealed by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. In 2013, with accessibility on the rise, DOT deemed it necessary that all air carriers, both foreign and domestic, have fully-accessible websites and kiosks, and websites were required to be accessible by no later than December 12, 2015.

Determining Difference

DOT is requesting public opinion about differentiating between types of service animals, including emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals. What’s more, they are debating whether to limit the number, size, and species of service animals permitted to fly with passengers with disabilities. They are also questioning the legality of asking passengers with disabilities if their service animal is properly trained and certified, as well as whether it should be on a leash or harness, depending on the species. As we have already seen, there have been recent incidents of questionable service animals, as well as misbehavior including biting and scratching other passengers or airline staff and urinating aboard the flight.

Recognizing Need

DOT said in a statement, “The department recognizes the integral role that service animals play in the lives of many individuals with disabilities and wants to ensure seamless access to air transportation for individuals with disabilities while also helping to deter the fraudulent use of animals not qualified as service animals.” According to this statement they’re not looking to roll back ACAA but, rather, to create new definitions for and regulations on service animals on flights, while respecting the rights of passengers with disabilities, as well as taking into consideration passengers’ concerns.


At ILCNSCA, we know the importance of service animals in helping individuals with disabilities navigate the hardship and stress brought about by travelling. Service animals play a vital role in both aiding and calming their owners in many areas of life. If you would like more information about how service animals can help in your independent living situation, contact ILCNSCA by phone at 978-741-0077, or visit our website at

Tags: , , , ,

Categorized in: , , , ,

This post was written by Sperling

Comments are closed here.