Flying with a group of humans is already a hassle—and if one of your group members is flying with a service animal, navigating the airways gets a little bit trickier. Here are five tips to help you and your group member's furry, four-legged counterpart along on the journey.
1. Know what to expect.
The Department of Homeland Security Administration has universal guidelines for traveling with a service animal, but if you're flying, each airline interprets the guidelines slightly differently. Always call first to inquire about airline-specific information.
2. Check the requirements.
If you're traveling with your group internationally, check the requirements of your destination country. Animals will need to visit an international vet to get approved for travel, some countries could take six months or more for pre-travel preparations, and tests and treatments may be required during specific times. Service animals may also need to be quarantined.
3. Contact the airline.
Under the Americans for Disabilities Act, service and therapy animals are allowed to travel with clients at no additional cost. As a courtesy, however, notify the airline if you're traveling with a service animal; the crew may need to make preparations for boarding.
4. Provide identification.
Airlines require assurance that an animal is a service animal, rather than a pet. Provide identification: cards or documentations, a harness with markings, a doctor's letter, or another form of credible assurance that the animal is required for a disability.
5. Inform the TSA officer.
Inform the TSA officer that your group is traveling with a service animal. The animal will be screened by a walk-through metal detector—just like human passengers. The animal could walk through the detector with its human, or separately on a leash. Service animal's collars, harnesses, leashes, backpacks, vests and other items are subject to screening, and medication for service animals must go through X-ray or inspection screening.