(Note: The following advice about air travel for guide dog handlers was originally provided by the GDUI Legislative Committee in December, 2010 and recently updated.)
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published a document explaining their policies with
regard to guide and service dog handlers:
“What To Expect If You Are Blind Or Visually Impaired And Use A Service Dog”.
That document has been posted on the GDUI lists (and will be re-posted) for your convenience. In addition to this information from the TSA, regarding airport security as it applies to guide and service dog handlers, The GDUI-Legislative Committee offers the following to help guide dog handlers to be prepared for the current realities of airport security screening.
Please note: it is important to be aware that, as members of the traveling public, we may be randomly selected for enhanced security screening, even if we do not cause the metal detector to alarm. If randomly selected for the enhanced screening, all individuals have the right to request to be searched by a TSA agent of his/her same gender and with consideration given for privacy. In addition, please be aware that it is TSA policy *not* to require a disabled person to be separated from his/her service dog at any time.
The TSA’s policy is *not* to allow a guide dog handler (or service dog handler) to be scanned with the imaging equipment. Therefore, guide dog handlers (and service dog handlers) must go through the metal detector or be patted down. A pat-down will be required if the individual causes the metal detector to alarm. If the guide (or service) dog causes the metal detector to alarm, but the handler does not, then only the dog will require pat-down.
Some things to consider for yourself when you are traveling by air:
Things to consider as you prepare for a flight with your guide dog:
Things to consider as recommended procedure for going through airport screening with your guide dog:
Essentially, the preferred scenario is:
Please note that the handler should not physically touch their guide dog until after the TSA officer has screened the dog and given his/her “all clear”. If the handler does touch the dog before it has been screened, the handler will be subject to an enhanced search-- even if he or she did not cause the metal detector to alarm.
Every airline has a Complaint Resolutions Officer (CRO) for every airport. The Department of Transportation also has a “Travelers with Disabilities” hotline that can be called in case of questions or confusion about the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). This line has live staff during normal weekday business hours. A message can be left at other times, or if the line is busy, and a staff member should follow up.
Toll-free numbers to keep handy for help in air travel situations:
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has established a toll-free hotline to assist travelers with disabilities. The hotline will provide general information to consumers about the rights of air travelers with disabilities, respond to requests for printed consumer information, and assist air travelers with time-sensitive disability-related issues that need to be addressed in "real time." Effective October 1, 2006, the hours for the hotline are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday except federal holidays.
Learn more about the Aviation Consumer Protection Division at http://http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer
Transportation Security Administration Call Center
TSA Contact Center
The Transportation Security Administration Contact Center handles general questions and specific
violations and concerns about security. Members of the traveling public who believe that they have
been unlawfully discriminated against by a TSA employee may contact the External Compliance Division
in the Office of Civil Rights to have their concerns addressed, by sending an E-mail to:
or by calling the Office of Civil Rights.
TSA Office of civil Rights
877.336.4872 (voice) or 800.877.8339 (TTY)
Learn more about the Transportation security Administration at https://www.tsa.gov
This web page revised 02/08/2016.
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