Flying with a service dog? Here’s a guide to all the rules

Updated federal rules for flying with service animals took effect in January 2021 and the changes have caused confusion for travelers and airlines. In some cases, people’s service dogs were denied boarding.

Two women told The Arizona Republic that Allegiant Air wrongfully denied their service dogs. One of them had been unaware prior to her flight that the rules had changed.

In December 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation revised the Air Carrier Access Act. The DOT issued a final ruling that outlines how airlines must accommodate passengers traveling with service animals. The changes included:

  • No longer allowing emotional support animals as service animals.
  • Narrowing the definition of a service animal to only include dogs.
  • Requiring airlines to treat psychiatric service animals the same as other service animals without additional documentation.
  • Allowing airlines to require passengers to submit paperwork before boarding with their service dog.