BREAKING NEWS

Air Travel on Australian Airlines

Australian airlines are regulated by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). They have laws and guidelines in place, which while being required to take the Disability Discriminiation Act into consideration can override that as the safety of the aircraft must come first. They do allow guide and other assistance dogs on board but only under very stringent criteria. Permission for the dog to be on board, must be granted by CASA, it is not something an individual airline can decide.

They are allowed to have on board dogs from programs which are accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation, or Assistance Dogs International. Very very few programs are accredited by ADI, most programs have one of the two lower forms of membership.

Other programs within Australia can apply and be granted permission for their dogs to be able to access all aircraft, and this is done on an assessment of the program, their standards, testing requriements, qualifications of the trainers, etc. Four assistance dog programs and a hearing dog program have been granted rights under this, and all the guide dog programs in Australia are accredited with the International Guide Dog Federation.

Dogs from other programs and those which are owner trained can be granted permission for the individual dog to be in the cabin, but this must be done via CASA. It is not something an individual airline can do. They will lose the authority to operate in Australia if they are found to be in breech of these regulations. In order for other dogs to be considered under this criteria a person must be able to provide evidence of:

Training
Customers must be able to provide details of the training completed by their assistance dog in relation to the following:
Training in a high standard of appropriate behaviour.
Training in real life situations travelling and functioning on an aircraft, bus, train, tram and ferry.
Training not to bark.
Training to toilet on demand and only under instructions from the customer.
Training in being in confined spaces, and
Training not to react to noises, crowds or stressful environments.

In general, individuals must provide a letter and/or other appropriate certification from the professional body, association that provided the training which confirms the following:
Who provided the training in each of the above training elements.
How much training the dog has received in each of the above training elements (eg: 6 weeks or 6 months, the number of hours of each training session, what each training session entailed, etc ).
What sort of training the dog has received in each of the above elements.
Confirmation that the dog is competent in all of the above training elements.
Who has assessed and trained the dog, and what are their qualifications, certifications, experience, etc.

Disability
CASA also requires information in relation to your disability and the nature of assistance provided by the assistance dog to yourself.
You will need to provide information from a treating doctor which addresses the following:
What is the precise nature of the disability and what are its effects?
Is the disability temporary or permanent?
What function does the assistance dog perform in relation to your disability - ie in what way does the assistance dog assist the customer in relation to the customer's disability?
Does the customer's disability affect the customer's ability to fly in an aircraft?
If yes, in what way and how does the assistance dog alleviate the effect of the disability during travel on an aircraft?
Is the customer able to fly in an aircraft if the customer is not accompanied by the assistance dog?
Are there any other alternative means of alleviating the disability in relation to flying in an aircraft other than having the assistance dog in the cabin with the customer?

When this evidence is provided it is the CASA who makes a decision as to whether the dog will be allowed on board, given the evidence provided. This is not something an individual airline can decide.

On board the plane the dog will be provided with its own seat space, and be required to lie on a moisture absorbant mat, on the floor in front of that seat for the duration of the flight. The dog will be placed next to the window and the disabled passanger will be given the seat next to them. Airlines are only expected to accommodated two dogs per flight. If someone wishes to travel with a dog on board, and those two seats are taken they would have a choice of waiting for a later flight, and/or paying for an extra seat themselves. Dogs cannot share the persons own foot space, and must be on the floor the whole flight.