This is a work in progress. (c) 2001 by Grumpy Ol' Fred.

It may be forwarded and reposted, but only if this message is included. Additions, corrections and suggestions would be very welcome.

Since there has been little support for my proposal that planes be REQUIRED to have dogs on board, here is some discussion of the current state of airplane access law.

Q: Wouldn't the ADA apply?

A: The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) rules the planes, and to some extent the airports. They have the ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act) in place of the ADA. Similar, but not an exact match.

Q: Will the airline staff know the laws?

A: Not a chance. There are a lot of laws, and little incentive to learn them.

Q: What will happen when they don't know the laws?

A: As in any other situation, they will try to make it up as they go along. On anything that they don't agree with you, they will tell you that it is "safety laws".

Q: What can you do when they don't know the laws?

A: Sometimes an escalation will help. They are required by law to have a CRO ("Complaint Resolution Officer") on duty at all times.

Q: Will there be a CRO on duty?

A: Not a chance. You are more likely to be able to find Sasquatch or DB Cooper.

Q: What can you do if there's a problem?

A: Do not yell. Do not demand. In a completely unemotional voice, using passive verbs, that all English teachers would be grievously offended by, simply tell them what needs to be done. They are so used to taking orders that the right tone of voice will make it possible to simply slide in the correct instructions of what they are to do. For example, practice saying, "Seat 1C will need to be reassigned to me."

Q: But how can the airline know whether the dog is a "fake"?

A: Anybody who can not tell whether or not it is really a dog is not competent to operate an airline!

Q: An airline representative said to be sure to bring my papers. What is that about?

A: Since the sole requirement of "proof" for a service dog is any sort of harness, collar, or cape markings, OR "credible verbal assurances", then he surely couldn't have been referring to any sort of "certification". What he must have meant was a suggestion to bring your newspaper. A newspaper in one of the waiting lounges can really brighten the day of a bored traveller.

Q: Are there any requirements to be dressed?

A: Airports abide by the same "indecent exposure" laws as the surrounding community.

Q: Is there a requirement for a special collar?

A: If you are a member of the clergy of certain religions.

Q: What does "credible verbal assurances" mean?

A: NEVER wink while you are telling them that your dog is a service dog!

Q: What about relief for the dog during stopovers, or immediately before or after a flight?

A: In most cases, you will have to exit the secure area, and head out to the curb. Frequently airline staff can help, and in relatively informal airports may even escort you to the tarmac. It never hurts to ask. Well, almost never. One passenger was quite surprised at the reaction when she walked up to the nearest airport cop and said, "Where can I find some grass?" Another passenger caused a bit of a disruption when the pilot, wearing sunglasses, took his guide dog out to potty for him.

Q: What about relief in flight?

A: If you can, hold it. Airplane restrooms are clean, but VERY cramped. The door fits loosely enough that a leash WILL usually fit under the bottom edge of the door, leaving your dog out in the hall staring at the door. It helps to get an attendant to hold the leash, or at least hold off the crowds who will see an opportunity to play or even try to feed peanuts to your dog.

Q: What about for the DOG?

A: The dog will have to try to hold it. If you expect to take ridiculously long flights, or cruises, or submarine trips, etc, then train the dog to eliminate onto a small piece of astro-turf, or on a disposable diaper. The staff are well versed on what to do with used/full diapers. If the dog does have an "accident", clean up as well as you can. Spreading used coffee grounds can be a good way to cover up the smell.

Q: How about food and/or water for the dog in flight?

A: Even if your dog finds airline food more appetizing than you do, it's a bad idea, since the dog won't get a relief opportunity until much later. A couple of little pieces of ice will help the dog deal with thirst, without filling the bladder.

Q: What effect will the recent tightening of security have?

A: The airport rent-a-cops who handle security may eventually be replaced by trained guvmint workers. Until then, there will be enormous variation from one place or time to another. They are scared, and are NOT trained how to deal with this, so they will make it up as they go along.

Expect major interrogations. Since the rent-a-cops have no training for this situation, do not expect them to know what the legal limits are on interrogation.

And plan to carry as little as possible.

No pinch collars or choke collars, since security is scared of metal objects.
In the paper the other day, they showed a picture of the confiscated "weapons" from airport security.
There were a lot of corkscrews -- HUH? Doesn't everyone know that airplane wine has screwcaps?
There was an aerosol can.
There was the expected pile of pocket and keychain knives.

And there was a NUMBER TWO PENCIL! (and some pens)

Ah, yes. The pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword.

So, ... find a short, stubby, plastic, "non-threatening" pen, since apparently some airport security now are worried about Bic pens being used as weapons.

When do they start taking away belts and shoelaces? (long recognized as dangerous in prisons)

Will we ultimately fly naked? Will that bring back some of the fun and excitement of flying?

Q: Is there any requirement of crating?

A: If you are a corpse, you must be in an appropriate box.

Q: What about petting by employees?

A: The FAA does not approve of staff engaging in sexual activities while airborne.

Q: What about sitting on your lap?

A: The FAA does not approve of attendants sitting on the laps of passengers nor on the pilot's lap during flight.

Q: Does the dog need to ride in cargo?

A: Only if you ride in cargo.

Q: Does the dog need to be under the seat?

A: Only if you are. If you feel the need to curl up under the seat when flying, perhaps you should reconsider your transportation options.

Q: Do you need to pay for a seat for the dog?

A: Only if the dog sits on the seat.

Q: The airline says that I have to sit in the window seat of the bulkhead row. Is that true?

A: NO. Although many PWDs prefer that seat, ACAA explicitly lets you sit anywhere that you want. If you contact the airline 24 hours in advance, you can reserve the bulkhead seat (or whatever seat you want), If somebody else has already reserved it, the airline will have to pre-empt their reservation and let you have it anyway. That will make the folks that already had it very mad. On airlines that do not reserve seats ("cattlecar seating"), by having a free-for-all in loading, they must give you a headstart. It is even possible to have them "block" the seat next to you, so that you will have more room unless the plane is completely full. However, "blocking" a seat is such an unusual procedure for some of them, that the process of "unblocking" it if needed could even delay a flight.

Q: Are there any exceptions to where I may sit?

A: Yes. If you might be an obstruction, you may not sit in an emergency exit row. You must also not block the aisle, or everybody will freak out if they are delayed for more than a fraction of a second. In addition, the toilets are not to be used during takeoff and landing, and there are a couple of seats that are reserved for the pilot and crew.

Q: Where is the best place to sit?

A: As far away from the plane as possible.

This is a work in progress.

copyright 2001 by Grumpy Ol' Fred, all rights reserved.
It may be forwarded and reposted, but only if this message is included. Additions, corrections and suggestions would be very welcome.
. . .

If you have suggestions for improvements, please send them to me at: