Travel with a Guide Dog

An archived photo showing a guide dog team walking up the stairs to an Eastern Airlines airplane a NY Inter. Airport.

Plan Ahead

Traveling doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Here’s what you can expect if you or someone you know is visually impaired and traveling with a guide or service dog.

Education and preparation are key to help you and your guide dog gain confidence and a better understanding of what to expect during screening. There are services and programs such as The Guide Dog Foundation and America's VetDogs, that coordinate with airports and TSA to provide demonstrations and practices for you and your assistance dog. These live demonstrations provide guidance to you, your guide dog, and TSA officers as well.

TSA can also provide assistance to help you through airport security. Contact TSA Cares 72 hours before your scheduled flight. A passenger support specialist or a supervisory transportation security officer will arrange to meet you curbside and will help guide you through security.

Pack properly
When packing for your trip, be sure to place your travel-sized liquids in a quart-sized bag and any electronic devices larger than a cell phone, in an easily accessible area as they will need to be removed from your bag for screening. Liquids over 3.4 ounces are not allowed through security, however, the rule does not apply if you are traveling with liquid medications. TSA allows larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in reasonable quantities for your trip, but you must declare them to TSA officers at the checkpoint for inspection.

When in doubt, consider checking your bag. The fewer items you have to go through security screening with the easier it may be for you and your guide dog to go through security. On the plus side, by checking in your bag you won’t have to worry about any items accidentally being left behind at the checkpoint.

Prepare for screening
Being prepared promotes success and helps the screening process go smoothly.  First, at no point doing the screening process will you be separated from your guide dog.

Unless you have TSA Pre✓®, you will be asked to remove your jacket, belt, and shoes for screening. If you are unable to remove these items, you will require additional screening.

Apply now to get TSA Pre✓®  on your next trip.

Although you don’t have to remove your dog’s harness and leash, be prepared for your guide dog to receive additional screening if you decide to leave these items on.

Additional screening may include being screened for explosives trace detection, a walk-through metal detector, and/or a pat-down. If by chance you or your dog sets off an alarm during screening, then you will get a pat-down conducted by an officer of the same gender as you present yourself. Before the start of a pat-down, the officer will walk you through the process, which includes an officer using their hands to conduct a physical inspection of you and your dog. Reminder, communication is key!

  • An officer will first ask for your permission before touching your guide dog.
  • At no point of the screening process will you be asked to be separated from your guide dog or be asked to remove your guide dog’s harness or vest.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the officer to use a new pair of gloves.
  • Do remember that you can always request to speak with a supervisor or request a private screening accompanied by a companion of your choice.

Request assistance
Need more information? We have a team ready to answer your questions @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on ET on weekends. You may also email the TSA Contact Center or call (866) 289-9673. Representatives are available 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 pm. ET, weekends are 9 to 7p.m. ET.

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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Final Rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced that it is revising its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on the transportation of service animals by air to ensure a safe and accessible air transportation system.  The final rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals can be found HERE.

The Department received more than 15,000 comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking. The final rule announced today 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 final rule: 

  • Defines 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 considers an emotional support animal to be a service animal
  • Requires airlines to treat psychiatric service animals the same as other service animals
  • Allows airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal’s health, behavior and training, and if taking a long flight attesting that the service animal can either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner
  • Allows airlines to require individuals traveling with a service animal to provide the DOT service animal form(s) up to 48 hours in advance of the date of travel if the passenger’s reservation was made prior to that time
  • Prohibits airlines from requiring passengers with a disability who are traveling with a service animal to physically check-in at the airport instead of using the online check-in process
  • Allows airlines to require a person with a disability seeking to travel with a service animal to provide the DOT service animal form(s) at the passenger’s departure gate on the date of travel
  • Allows airlines to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals
  • Allows airlines to require a service animal to fit within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft
  • Allows airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed, or tethered at all times in the airport and on the aircraft
  • Continues 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
  • Continues to prohibit airlines from refusing to transport a service animal solely based on breed.
  • The final rule will be effective 30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.