Early in December 2020, I wrote a blog post about the final rule issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT) on traveling by air with service animals. The rule was published in the Federal Register a few weeks later, which cleared the way for it to go into effect today, January 11, 2021. From now on, passengers have to pay to have emotional support animals travel with them.
Service animal organizations – including the Seeing Eye, where I trained with my service dog Luna – are pleased with certain aspects of the rule, including the definition of service animal as “a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified person with a disability.” But one thing about the 2020 ruling many service dog organizations are not crazy about is the new form DOT is requiring service-dog users to fill out before traveling.
Starting today, airlines will be required to have the Service Animal Air Transportation form on their web sites, including a version accessible to people who use assistive technology – the screen reader I am using with my laptop to write this article, for example. Service dog organizations say they will be watching closely as airlines begin to implement the new rule. Many view the requirement to fill out a special form when flying as an unnecessary and unfair burden to impose on qualified service dog handlers.
The Department of Transportation can only take action against an airline if individuals exercise their right to file a complaint. Qualified service dog handlers who encounter barriers to air travel – including inaccessible forms – are encouraged to file a Department of Transportation Civil Rights complaint form found online here.
And if it helps to have the link all spelled out the DOT civil rights complaint form can be found online at: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer
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