You can travel with your assistance dog if it was trained and accredited by an approved organisation to help someone with a disability.
Types of assistance dogs
There are 3 types of assistance dogs:
- guide dogs
- hearing dogs
- assistance dogs – dogs that help someone with other disabilities. This includes:
Approval to travel with your assistance dog
If you want to travel with your assistance dog, you need to let your airline know when you book. Each airline has different notice periods and will assess your application. Approval from one airline doesn't guarantee another airline will approve.
The captain of your flight will make the final decision as to whether your dog can travel in the aircraft cabin. This is the captain's decision even if the airline has already provided their approval.
You can seek advice from the Australian Human Rights Commission if you weren't allowed to travel with your assistance dog.
If you're travelling on an overseas airline, contact the airline to find out what their regulations and procedures are. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources can help you find information on quarantine regulations.
An approved organisation must have trained, or is training, your assistance dog. You may need to provide proof of this training. Training will include your dog passing a public access test (PAT).
The airline will decide what assistance dog training organisations they accept. However, they must:
- be accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by Section 9 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 or
- meet or exceed the minimum standards set by:
Therapy dogs aren't considered assistance dogs.
The airline will usually accept your assistance dog if:
- it has been trained overseas and
- you can prove that the training is up to the standards set by Assistance Dogs International.
You need to comply with the same conditions even if you have trained your assistance dog yourself. You need to have your training method assessed to make sure it's suitable. Ask the airline about the available options.
What happens at the airport
Your assistance dog must wear their identifying coat and be with you or its trainer throughout the airport and on the plane.
You must have proof of identity documents issued by an approved organisation. This must show that your dog has passed the PAT.
If the assistance dog is accompanying you as its trainer, you must carry documentation issued by an approved organisation identifying you as an approved trainer.
What happens onboard the aeroplane
The airline will work out the best seat for you and your dog based on several things, including the aircraft type you're on. Your dog must be:
- harnessed with a suitable restraint
- wearing an identifying coat
- sitting on a moisture absorbent mat (provided by the airline).
You should prepare for the flight by exercising your assistance dog and limiting their fluid intake prior to boarding.