12.03.20

Senator Burr Applauds Department of Transportation’s Revised Rule of Service Animals on Flights

The Department of Transportation yesterday announced its revision to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation of service animals on aircraft to ensure a safe and accessible air transportation system.

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

“For too long, some people have taken advantage of the service animal program by fraudulently claiming disability needs so they could bring a ridiculous range of animals on flights,” said Senator Burr. “The Department of Transportation’s revised rule is a commonsense fix and a big win for Americans and for veterans with disabilities. It protects the ability of those with legitimate needs to safely travel with trained service animals. I’ve worked for years to create stricter service animal guidelines, and I applaud the Department of Transportation for recognizing the importance of creating a safer and more accessible air transportation system.”

Background:

In April 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.

On January 22, 2020, as a result of Senator Burr’s successful negotiation, the Department of Transportation announced that it was seeking public comment on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on traveling by air with service animals.

The final rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals can be found here. Specifically, the Department of Transportation’s 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 the DOT attesting to a service animal’s health, behavior, and training.