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travelling-with-your-assistance-dog

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Travelling with assistance dogs

Travelling with assistance dogs

British Airways will carry a recognised assistance dog free of charge in the cabin on all international flights to/from London Heathrow or Gatwick and on all UK Domestic flights.

An assistance dog is one which has been specifically trained to assist a disabled person and has been qualified by one of the charitable organisations, meeting the full membership criteria of Assistance Dogs International (ADI), the accrediting body for assistance dog' organisations worldwide

The purpose of ADI is to improve the areas of training, placement, and utilisation of assistance dog, staff and volunteer education, as well as educating the public about assistance dog, and advocating for the legal rights of people with disabilities partnered with assistance dog.

ADI has a comprehensive accreditation system and members have to be regularly assessed to ensure they meet the high standards expected of assistance dog programs.

ADI - Assistance Dogs International

ADI have training standards for three types of assistance dogs:

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs assist blind and visually impaired people by avoiding obstacles, stopping at curbs and steps, and negotiating traffic.

Here are some of the standards the guide dog and their handler are expected to achieve, full details can be found at ADI website with Training Standards for Guide Dogs.

  • The guide dog should demonstrate basic obedience skills by responding to voice and/or hand signals for sitting, staying in place, lying down, walking in a controlled position near the client and coming to the client when called.
  • The handler and the guide dog must meet all of the standards as laid out in the minimum standards for ADI assistance dogs in Public. 
  • The guide dog will be trained to negotiate obstacles, overhangs, barriers, street crossings, city and country work and public transportation.
  • In public the guide dog will wear the program’s appropriate guide harness.

Hearing Dogs

Hearing dogs assist deaf or hearing impaired individuals by alerting them to a variety of household sounds such as a door knock, telephone, baby cry, name call or smoke alarm. Dogs are trained to make physical contact and lead their deaf partners to the source of the sound.

 

Here are some of the standards the hearing dog and their handler are expected to achieve, full details can be found at ADI website with Training Standards for Hearing Dogs.

  • The hearing dog should demonstrate basic obedience skills by responding to voice and/or hand signals for sitting, staying in place, lying down, walking in a controlled position near the client and coming to the client when called.
  • The handler and hearing dog must meet all of the standards as laid out in the ADI Minimum Standards for Dogs in Public.
  • Upon hearing a sound, the hearing dog should alert the client by making physical contact or by some other behavior, so the client is aware when a trained sound occurs.
  • In public the dog must wear a cape, harness, backpack, or other similar piece of equipment or clothing with a logo that is clear and easy to read and identifiable as an assistance dog.

Service Dogs

Service dogs assist people with disabilities other than vision or hearing impairment. With special training these dogs can help mitigate many different types of disabilities. They can be trained to work with people who use power or manual wheelchairs, have balance issues, have various types of autism, need seizure alert or response, need to be alerted to other medical issues like low blood sugar, or have psychiatric disabilities.

Here are some of the standards the service dog and their handler are expected to achieve, full details can be found at ADI website with Training Standards for Service Dogs.

  • The service dog should demonstrate basic obedience skills by responding to voice and/or hand signals for sitting, staying in place, lying down, walking in a controlled position near the client and coming to the client when called.
  • The handler and service dog must meet all of the standards as laid out in the minimum standards for assistance dog in Public.
  • The service dog must be trained to perform at least 3 tasks to mitigate the client’s disability
  • In public the dog must wear a cape, harness, backpack, or other similar piece of equipment or clothing with a logo that is clear and easy to read and identifiable as assistance dog.

Dogs providing any other service, such as emotional support, will not have been trained to meet the criteria set by ADI and are not recognised as assistance dogs by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and therefore be booked as a domestic pet and travel in the hold.

Travelling with pets

Defra for recognised assistance dogs

Travel Restrictions

collapsedshowTravelling from the UK

Any restrictions travelling out of the UK are dependent on the requirements of the destination country.

collapsedshowTravelling into the UK

If you are travelling to the UK your dog must meet the requirements of the UK Pet Travel Scheme.

The Pet Travel scheme from Defra

collapsedshowBooking your assistance dog

We have to limit the number of assistance dogs we can carry in the cabin, so let us know about your dog when you make your booking, and at least 7 days before your flight departs.

If your flight is operated by our airline alliance or franchise partners please contact them as they may have their own restrictions.

Contact us to book your assistance dog. 

collapsedshowPreparing for your trip
  • If booking a flight into the UK, you must confirm you flight details with the Animal Reception Centre as they will need to meet you on arrival and clear your assistance dog to enter the UK
      Heathrow +44 (0) 208 745 7894 or +44 (0) 208 745 7895
      Gatwick  +44 (0) 1293 462180
  • Many organisations recommend assistance dogs should only be accepted on a flight of 10 hours flown time or less. We will accept the dog for a longer flight providing you can confirm that your dog can manage a longer flight
  • You must provide a dog car safety harness or equivalent to secure your assistance dog during take off and landing and whenever the seat belt signs are illuminated
  • You are responsible for the needs of your assistance dog, cabin crew are unable to offer any assistance to the dog during the flight
  • We recommend that you have a fleece or vet-bed for the dog to lie on and also absorbent pads which can be placed under the fleece
collapsedshowDeparture Process
  • British Airways will allocate an appropriate seat for you, usually in a bulkhead row
  • You will not be able to check in online therefore on arrival at your departure airport you should make yourself known to a member of the check-in staff prior to going through Security in order that assistance may be provided to the departure gate
  • Assistance Dogs are permitted access to the BA Airport lounges subject to the eligibility of their handler
collapsedshowArrivals Process
  • For any flight arriving into the UK, an animal reception centre officer will meet you and your dog at the aircraft side and carry out the clearance checks to enter the UK.
  • The animal reception centre officer will place an easily identifiable self-adhesive clearance tag (stating Pet Travel Scheme Entry Check Passed) on the dog harness as proof that the dog has been cleared for landing into the country.
  • Once cleared your dog can then be taken to a relief area by BA representative.
  • Once the clearance checks have been completed and the assistance dog has been taken to the relief area a BA representative will accompany you through Customs and Immigration.
collapsedshowTransfers
  • Please consider extra time may be required when transferring to another flight to allow for clearance and relief of your dog 
  • A BA representative will accompany you and your assistance dog to the appropriate area to await the departure of your next flight.