Help With Flying With Your Service Dog
This is very, very important for all clients to understand regarding Airline Assistance requests. I (Laurie, CEO) get a LOT of requests for help with Airline Travel, which is very important because I make sure that the airlines know that each client is flying with a Service Dog, and I know to emphasize with the more “stringent” airlines that SD’s that help people with psychiatric disabilities are called in by me as MEDICAL ALERT SERVICE DOGS. This is truth, because the ADA no longer even uses the term “psychiatric Service Dog” – they have been put in the same category as ALL Service Dogs, because psychiatric disabilities are literally medical conditions affecting the brain. I have to reiterate to many airlines that it is NOT an emotional support animal, because if they ask what the SD is for, if I say ANYTHING that resembles something psychiatric, they often don’t follow the ADA laws and they will immediately classify it as an ESA: requiring extensive paperwork, a fee, etc. I have learned very well how to work with the more difficult airlines, such as American. I reiterate to them that once they have listed the SD, they REPEAT back to me that the handler is not required to show ANY paperwork – simply that the SD is vested and has proof of rabies. I then verify with the airlines that the handler and SD team will be guided into the Priority TSA screening line, and get priority boarding. I have been working for years with Congress and to revise the Air Carrier Access Act so that Service Dog handlers who have psychiatric disabilities are treated no less respectfully as clients who have other disabilities. It is a long work in progress.
The ONE thing I cannot do for sure is this: if the handler making the reservation does NOT book the bulkhead seats, the only thing I can do is ASK the Special Assistance department if the seats can be changed. That is something I cannot guarantee. So, PLEASE, when you make your reservations, say that you are flying with a Medical Alert Service Dog, and try your best to book the bulkheads, especially with larger dogs. I will always still ensure that the process is as seamless as possible for all of you, will receive confirmation calls from the airlines 48 hours and 24 hours in advance to re-confirm, and will gladly walk each client/SD team through the entire process; but as much as I will try, I cannot guarantee that the airline will automatically give each client the bulkhead. And remember – after I call, and you are at the check-in desk, they might ask you the only two questions that they can ask. 1) Is this a Service Dog and 2) What tasks does this dog perform? ALL you have to say is 1) Yes and 2) He is a Medical Alert Service Dog OR My Service Dog helps me with my daily functioning. Travel requests require a lot of time for me on the phone with both the reservation departments and the Special Assistance departments, but I will always follow-through with this. Thank you!