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2008~ACAA Part 382 Final Rule Service Animals

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K9 Mama

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Join date : 2016-06-25

2008~ACAA Part 382 Final Rule Service Animals

Post by K9 Mama on Sat Jul 02, 2016 4:18 pm

k9 mama wrote:Not sure at this moment if there is a newer Transportation law out after May 2009 but wanted to put this up so we could review.~Thanks

27614  Federal Register /Vol. 73, No. 93 /Tuesday, May 13, 2008 /Rules and Regulations
Effective Date: This rule is  effective May 13,2009

It should be emphasized that the fact that a carrier policy or foreign regulation addresses the same subject as a provision of Part 382 does not mean the carrier policy or foreign regulation is an equivalent alternative. For example, both Part 382 and various carrier policies address the transportation of service animals. A policy or regulation that was more restrictive than Part 382 would not be viewed as an equivalent alternative, since it provided less, rather than substantially equivalent, accessibility for passengers who use service animals.  

Resource:Rule May 13, 2009

[note=]This is only part of Part 382 as I am reading throughout the 75 pages of the rules and regulations. I will add more to this of course as I get all the parts for service animals added.[/note]

(pg. 23 of the Federal Register)

The subject that attracted the most comments on the Foreign Carriers NPRM—over 1100 of the 1290 received—was service animals. Interestingly, most of these comments did not pertain to anything in the Foreign Carriers NPRM’s proposed regulatory text, but rather to a guidance document concerning transportation of service animals that the Department had issued in May 2003. As an informational matter, this existing guidance document was published as an appendix to the November 2004 NPRM. The paragraph in the document that was the focus of most of the comments was the following:

If the service animal does not fit in the assigned location, you should relocate the passenger and the service animal to some other place in the cabin in the same class of service where the animal will fit under the seat in front of the passenger and not create an obstruction, such as the bulkhead. If no single seat in the cabin will accommodate the animal and passenger without causing an obstruction, you may offer the option of purchasing a second seat, traveling on a later flight or having the service animal travel in the cargo hold. As indicated above, airlines may not charge passengers with disabilities for services required by part 382, including transporting their oversized service animals in the cargo compartment. (69 FR 64393)

During the one and a half years preceding the issuance of the Foreign Carriers NPRM during which the guidance had been available, and during the over three years since the Foreign Carriers NPRM has been issued, there have been few if any instances brought to the attention of the Department in which service animals have been denied transportation, separated from their owners, or charged for an extra seat. Despite this apparent lack of problems in the real world of air travel, hundreds of comments expressed the fear that Department was proposing new regulations that would unfairly limit the travel opportunities of service animal users. Many of these comments suggested that there were no circumstances under which a service animal should be denied transportation in the cabin. If there were space imitations concerning accommodating arger animals, some commenters said, airlines should reconfigure their cabins to provide some larger spaces.

The Department believes that the fear of these commenters are largely unfounded. Nevertheless, in order to avoid future misunderstanding, the Department is republishing its service animal guidance later in the preamble at this final rule and has revised the language in this guidance document concerning carriage of larger, but otherwise acceptable, service animals to read as follows:

The only situation in which the rule contemplates that a service animal would not be permitted to accompany its user at his or her seat is where the animal blocks a space that, per FAA or applicable foreign government safety regulations, must remain unobstructed (e.g., an aisle, access to an emergency exit) AND the passenger and animal cannot be moved to another location where such a blockage does not occur. In such a situation, the carrier should first talk with other passengers to find a seat location where the service animal and its user can be agreeably accommodated (e.g., by finding a passenger who is willing to share foot space with the animal). The fact that a service animal may need to use a reasonable portion of an adjacent seat’s foot space—that does not deny another passenger effective use of the space for his or her feet—is not, however, an adequate reason for the carrier to refuse to permit the animal to accompany its user at his or her seat. Only if no other alternative is available should the carrier discuss less desirable options concerning the transportation of the service animal with the passenger traveling with the animal, such as traveling on a later flight with more room or carrying the animal in the cargo compartment. As indicated above, airlines may not charge passengers with disabilities for services required by Part 382, including transporting their oversized service animals in the cargo compartment.  

In modifying this paragraph in the guidance, we deleted the phrase concerning the potential purchase of a second seat, since there are probably no circumstances under which this would happen. If a flight is totally filled, there would not be any seat available to buy. If the flight had even one middle seat unoccupied, someone with a service animal could be seated next to the vacant seat, and it is likely that even a large animal could use some of the floor space of the vacant seat, making any further purchase unnecessary. Of course, service animals generally sit on the floor, so it is unlikely that a service animal would ever actually occupy a separate seat.

We have not taken other steps recommended by some commenters, such as mandating that airlines accommodate coach passengers with service animals in first class or reconfigure cabins. We would regard such mandates as potentially requiring a fundamental alteration of airlines’ operations, and consequently outside the scope of the statutory authority for this rule.

A second category of comments concerned the relationship of service animal requirements to Part 382’s coverage of foreign carriers. Many foreign carriers and their organizations stated that foreign carriers often had policies more restrictive than those of the ACAA (e.g., only dogs, or only dogs certified by recognized training schools or associations, are accommodated; some carriers don’t allow any animals in the cabin; service animals may be seated only in certain designated locations; there are number limits or advance notice requirements for service animals in the cabin). These commenters generally wished to maintain such restrictions.

As a general matter, foreign carrier policies with respect to service animals, like other foreign carrier policies, are subject to the conflict of laws waiver and equivalent alternative provisions of the final rule. Otherwise, modifying carrier policies to accommodate U.S. civil rights requirements is something foreign carriers must accept as part of their obligation to comply with U.S. law when flying to and from the U.S.

In addition to wishing to maintain existing policies restricting the access of service animals, some commenters mentioned that some countries have quarantine rules that severely delay or limit the entrance of certain animals, or effectively prohibit, certain animals - even service animals - from entering those countries. The Department agrees that, if Country S prohibits a certain kind of animal from entering, an airline serving an airport in Country S could apply for a conflict of laws waiver to be relieved of carrying such an animal to that country. Such a waiver would be country-specific; however, if the same airline is asked to carry the same animal to Country R, which does not have such a prohibition, the carrier would have to transport the creature. The final rule also requires carriers to promptly take all steps necessary to comply with such foreign regulations as are necessary to legally transport service animals from the U.S. into foreign airports (e.g., the United Kingdom’s Pet Travel Scheme).

Commenters mentioned that some persons may have religious or cultural objections to traveling in proximity to certain service animals. Other commenters raised the issue of passengers who may have allergies to certain animals. It has long been a principle of the Department’s ACAA and other disability regulations that it is improper for a transportation provider to deny or restrict service to a passenger with a disability because doing so may offend or annoy other persons (see for instance current 14 CFR 382.31(b) and section 382.19(b) of the final rule). This principle is again articulated in the final rule’s service animal section. Only if a safety problem amounting to a direct threat can be shown is restricting access required by Part 382 justifiable.

This principle applies to concerns about passengers who have allergies not rising to the level of a disability or cultural or personal objections to being on the same aircraft with a certain service animal. Their discomfort must yield to the nondiscrimination mandate of the ACAA. As stated in the Department’s service animal guidance, to which we have added language concerning the handling of allergy issues, carriers should do their best to accommodate other passengers’ concerns by steps like seating passengers with service animals and passengers who are uncomfortable with service animals away from one other. We note that, on flights operated by foreign carriers that are not subject to these rules, the carriers may, of course, apply their own policies with respect to carriage of service animals.

A number of commenters objected to the requirement that carriers accept animals as service animals on the basis of the ‘‘credible verbal assurances’’ of passengers, especially in the absence of credentials from a training school that the carrier recognizes. Under U.S. law (the ADA as well as the ACAA), it is generally not permissible to insist on written credentials for an animal as a condition for treating it as a service animal. It would be inconsistent with the ACAA to permit a foreign carrier, for example, to deny passage to a U.S. resident’s service animal because the animal had not been certified by an organization that the foreign carrier recognized. When flying to or from the United States, foreign carriers are subject to requirements of U.S. nondiscrimination law, though carriers may avail themselves of the conflict of laws waiver and equivalent alternative provisions of this Part. We acknowledge that some foreign carriers may be unused to making the kinds of judgment calls concerning the credibility of a passenger’s verbal assurances that the Department’s service animal guidance describes, and which U.S. carriers have made for over 17 years. However, the comments do not provide any persuasive evidence that foreign carriers are incapable of doing so or that making such judgment calls will in any important way interfere with the operation of their flights.

A number of carriers commented that making provision for service animals on long (e.g., trans-oceanic) flights was especially problematic. The main concern focused on the animals’ eating, drinking, and elimination functions. They pointed out that health and sanitation issues could arise. Some service animal users said that their animals were well trained to avoid creating sanitation problems on even a very long flight. The Department agrees that, on very long flights, carriers have a legitimate concern about sanitation issues that could arise if animals relieve themselves in the cabin. Consequently, the Department has added a provision to the regulatory text pertaining to a flight segment scheduled to take eight hours or more. For such a segment, the carrier may, if it chooses, require the passenger using the animal to provide documentation that the animal will not need to relieve itself on the flight or that the animal can do so in a way that does not create a health or sanitation issue. We agree with commenters that carriers should not have any responsibility for assisting with the eating, drinking, or elimination functions of service animals on board an aircraft.

Resource:Rule May 13, 2009

[pg 24 of the Federal Register]

Because they make for colorful stories, accounts of unusual service animals have received publicity wholly  disproportionate to their frequency or importance. Some (e.g., tales of service snakes, which grow larger with each retelling) have become the stuff of urban legends. A number of commenters nevertheless expressed concern about having to accommodate unusual service animals. To allay these concerns, the Department has added language to the final rule specifying that carriers need never permit certain creatures (e.g., rodents or reptiles) to travel as service  animals. For others (e.g., miniature horses, pot-bellied pigs, monkeys), a U.S. carrier could make a judgment call about whether any factors (e.g., size and weight of the animal, any direct threat to the health and safety of others, significant disruption of cabin service) would preclude carrying the animal. Absent such factors, the carrier would have to allow the animal to accompany its owner on the flight. Any denial of transportation to a service animal would have to be explained, in writing, to the passenger within 10 days.

While it is possible that foreign air carriers may have safety-related reasons for objecting to service animals other than dogs, even ones that have been successfully accommodated on U.S. carriers, these reasons were generally not articulated in their comments to the docket. Nevertheless, to give foreign carriers a further opportunity to raise any safety-related objections specific to foreign airlines to carrying these animals, the final rule does not apply the requirement to carry service animals other than dogs to foreign airlines. However, foreign carriers could not, absent a conflict of laws waiver, impose certification or documentation requirements for dogs beyond those permitted to U.S. carriers. We intend to seek further comment on this subject in the forthcoming SNPRM.

A few comments suggested adding, to the section prohibiting carriers from requiring passengers to sign waivers or releases of liability, language specifically applying this prohibition to the loss, injury, or death of service animals. We believe that this is a sensible suggestion, and we have added the language.

Resource:Rule May 13, 2009


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