Service Dogs fly Free!

As the airlines raise fees associated with pets being brought onto aircraft, a number of people are flocking to a new haven.  The haven?  They are certifying their pets as service animals.  Thanks to the Americans With Disability Act enforced in the US, individuals can't be denied from bring their pet, err service animal on board.  The best part?   There's no fee and Fido gets to ride in the cabin.

So what exactly does it take to be a service animal.  In 2010, the ADA updated their criteria for service animals and thanks to the wonder of Wikipedia, I have a snippet:

As of September of 2010, the United States' Americans with Disabilities Act has redefined a service animal as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.

So with this new set of loose requirements, it doesn't take much to demonstrate a disability.   Everyone suffers through some psychiatric or intellectual challenges, and thus can fall into the category of a "disability".  A number of readers of this site suffer from "Fear of Flying in Coach".  If you believe a service dog can help you suffer through sitting in coach, it's a bonafide disability.

So, while folks are exploiting this loophole, in the long run the folks that are going to suffer are the ones with more traditional disabilities who rely on service dogs for day to day existence.


Gene June 23, 2011 at 12:14 am

I would much rather be guaranteed an upgrade to help relieve my Fear of Coach Syndrome.

Sadly, it's actually a bonafide lie. How absolutely dishonest.

A. Flyer June 23, 2011 at 06:05 pm

What you don't mention is that airlines are now requiring certification that the need to travel with an animal presented as an "emotional support" service animal for free is, in fact, legitimate. There are notification requirements, and airlines reserve the right to call a doctor/psychiatrist for verification. One can't simply claim that any animal is a service animal and expect that animal to fly free.

Ann May 17, 2012 at 02:33 pm

Unfortunately there are many people who will exploit this and to be honest it ticks me of when they do. You will go into places and see dogs where there are signs that say NO DOGS ALLOWED and the human will say he is a service dog. I know I had an acquaintance that went online site like this one, and got his certification because he said he likes to bring his dog with him where ever he goes. This makes it possible for him to fly or take the trains and they cannot do anything about it. They show the paperwork that their dog is a service dog and if they are turned away they start spouting this is discrimination. The airlines or trains do not want to get into that argument or possible legal battle, so the let the dog on the train. Honestly the person took their dogs to some dog training classes and admits he had no disability, but has the certifications that he picked up online. He has used it to fly with his dog several places and also to take amtrak. I do not know if he still is that dishonest because I know I stopped doing anything with him because of this type of behavior.