01.23.20

Senator Burr Applauds Department of Transportation’s Proposed Rulemaking of Service Animals on Flights

Yesterday, the Department of Transportation announced its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation of service animals on aircraft.

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who led efforts to strengthen the standards of service animals on aircraft, welcomed the Department of Transportation’s announcement.

“When individuals are trying to bring any variety of animals on flights by fraudulently claiming disability needs, we have a problem,” said Senator Burr. “It isn’t fair to passengers, airlines, or those who do require properly trained service animals. It’s time we enact commonsense regulations that protect the ability of individuals and veterans with disabilities to travel with their trained service animals. I’ve been working to create stricter guidelines for service animals on airlines, and I applaud the Department of Transportation for taking steps to ensure our nation’s air transportation system is safer and more accessible.”

Background:

On April 24, 2018, Senator Burr introduced legislation to better align the definition of a “service animal” under the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) with the definition under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), establish a criminal penalty for making misrepresentations about service animals, and require federal agencies to establish a standard of service animal behavior training for animals on aircraft.

During consideration of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act in October 2018, Senator Burr negotiated the inclusion of an amendment to require the FAA to establish rulemaking to define the term “service animal” for air transportation and develop minimum standards for service and emotional support animals carried on airplanes.

As a result of this successful negotiation, the Department of Transportation yesterday announced it is seeking public comment on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on traveling by air with service animals. Specifically, the proposed rulemaking:

  • Aligns the definition of a service animal with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition.
  • Does not require airlines to recognize “emotional support animals” as “service animals.” Airlines would be permitted to treat “emotional support animals,” which do not have the proper training for qualified individuals with disabilities, as pets.
  • Allows airlines to only transport dogs as service animals rather than accommodating miniature horses, peacocks, cats, rabbits, birds, and other service animals that airlines are currently required to transport.