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A man the bridge of an Alaskan cruise with a white lab service dog. The man is dressed in black ski pants, a heavy red winter coat and black hat and gloves.

Accessible Travel: Service Dogs

Traveling with a service animal can be a rewarding and convenient experience for those who rely on their service animal for assistance with a disability. Examples of tasks that a service animal may perform include guiding a blind person, alerting a person who is deaf to sounds, and providing mobility assistance for a person with a mobility impairment. Whether you are flying on an airplane, taking a train, a cruise or thinking about accommodations, it is generally allowed to bring your service animal with you. They are protected by federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that businesses and organizations make reasonable accommodations for service animals.

International travel can be a bit more tricky as not all foreign nations have protections in place such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An emotional support animal (ESA), on the other hand, is an animal that provides emotional support and comfort to individuals with mental or emotional conditions. They are only protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and are allowed only protected in housing, such as "no-pet" buildings.. Unlike service animals, ESAs are not allowed in all public places, and their access is limited to specific situations where their presence is deemed necessary for the individual's well-being, documented with a doctor's note. Most airlines no longer allow ESAs on board with the same freedoms as Service Animals.


How We Help

Boy with Cerebral Palsy in a wheelchair with a black lab service dog in a hotel lobby. Behind him is a plant to his left and a yellow sofa.

Here are some ways we help you prepare for traveling with a service animal:

  1. Research the transportation provider's policies: It is important to find out what documentation and requirements are necessary to bring your service animal with you on your trip. Some transportation providers may require a letter from a healthcare professional stating that you have a disability and that the service animal is necessary to assist you with your disability. Others may require that you show that your service animal is trained and well-behaved.

  2. Make arrangements in advance: We contact the transportation provider ahead of time to make arrangements for your service animal. This will ensure that you have everything you need for your trip and that there are no surprises when you arrive at the airport or train station.

  3. We research the destination's rules and regulations for bringing animals in to their territories.

  4. We research the hotel, vacation rental or cruise regulations for service animals as well as any additional deposits that may be required.

  5. Bring identification for your service animal: It is a good idea to bring identification for your service animal, such as a vest or identification card. This will help others to identify your service animal as a legitimate service animal and not a pet.

  6. Know your rights: Under the Air Carrier Access Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with disabilities have the right to travel with their service animal in the cabin of an aircraft at no additional cost. Service animals are not considered pets, so they are not subject to the same restrictions as pets.

  7. Be prepared for the journey: Make sure that your service animal is well-trained and well-behaved before traveling.

  8. Consider the needs of the service animal during the trip, such as providing food, water, and rest breaks, as well as maintaining their vaccinations and training.

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