The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that it is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on the transportation of service animals by air.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Traveling by Air with Service Animals can be found HERE and provides the public with 60 days to comment on the proposed changes.
The new NPRM is intended to ensure a safe and accessible air transportation system. It addresses concerns raised by individuals with disabilities, airlines, flight attendants, airports, other aviation transportation stakeholders, and other members of the public, regarding service animals on aircraft. The Department recognizes the integral role that service animals play in the lives of many individuals with disabilities and wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also reducing the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim their pets are service animals.
The NPRM proposes to:
- Define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability;
- No longer consider an emotional support animal to be a service animal;
- Consider a psychiatric service animal to be a service animal and require the same training and treatment of psychiatric service animals as other service animals;
- Allow airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal’s good behavior, certifying the service animal’s good health, and if taking a long flight attesting that the service animal has the ability to either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner;
- Allow airlines to require passengers with a disability who are traveling with a service animal to check-in at the airport one hour prior to the travel time required for the general public to ensure sufficient time to process the service animal documentation and observe the animal;
- Require airlines to promptly check-in passengers with service animals who are subject to an advanced check-in process;
- Allow airlines to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals;
- Allow airlines to require a service animal to fit within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft;
- Continue to allow airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed, tethered, or otherwise under the control of its handler;
- Continue to allow airlines to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior and that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others; and
- Continue to prohibit airlines from refusing to transport a service animal solely on the basis of breed.
Comments on the NPRM must be received within 60 days of the date the notice is published. The NPRM can be found at regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2018-0068.