Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals and the ACAA
14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 382 Nondiscrimination On The Basis Of Disability In Air Travel
Subpart A - General Provisions
§382.1 What is the purpose of this part?
The purpose of this part is to carry out the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, as amended. This rule prohibits both U.S. and foreign carriers from discriminating against passengers on the basis of disability; requires carriers to make aircraft, other facilities, and services accessible; and requires carriers to take steps to accommodate passengers with a disability.
§382.3 What do the terms in this rule mean?
In this regulation, the terms listed in this section have the following meanings:
- Air Carrier Access Act or ACAA means the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, as amended, the statute that provides the principal authority for this part.
- Air transportation means interstate or foreign air transportation or the transportation of mail by aircraft, as defined in 49 U.S.C. 40102. Generally this refers to transportation by aircraft within, to or from the United States.
- Assistive device means any piece of equipment that assists a passenger with a disability to cope with the effects of his or her disability. Such devices are intended to assist a passenger with a disability to hear, see, communicate, maneuver, or perform other functions of daily life, and may include medical devices and medications.
- Automated airport kiosk means a self-service transaction machine that a carrier owns, leases, or controls and makes available at a U.S. airport to enable customers to independently obtain flight-related services.
- Battery-powered mobility aid means an assistive device that is used by individuals with mobility impairments such a wheelchair, a scooter, or a Segway when it is used as a mobility device by a person with a mobility-related disability.
- Carrier means a U.S. citizen (“U.S. carrier”) or foreign citizen (“foreign carrier”) that undertakes, directly or indirectly, or by a lease or any other arrangement, to engage in air transportation.
- Commuter carrier means an air taxi operator as defined in 14 CFR part 298 that carries passengers on at least 5 round trips per week on at least one route between two or more points according to its published flight schedules that specify the times, days of the week and places between which those flights are performed.
- Conforming alternate version means a Web page that allows a corresponding non-conforming Web page on the primary Web site to be included within the scope of conformance as long as it meets the WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria, is up-to-date and contains the same information and functionality in the same language as the non-conforming page. At least one of the following applies to a conforming alternative version:
(1) The conforming version can be reached from the non-conforming page via an accessibility-supported mechanism; o
(2) The non-conforming version can only be reached from the conforming version; or
(3) The non-conforming version can only be reached from a conforming page that also provides a mechanism to reach the conforming version.
- CPAP machine means a continuous positive airway pressure machine.
- Department or DOT means the United States Department of Transportation.
- Direct threat means a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.
- Equivalent alternative means a policy, practice, or other accommodation that provides substantially equivalent accessibility to passengers with disabilities, compared to compliance with a provision of this Part.
- Expected maximum flight duration means the carrier’s best estimate of the total duration of the flight from departure gate to arrival gate, including taxi time to and from the terminals, based on the scheduled flight time and factors such as (a) wind and other weather conditions forecast; (b) anticipated traffic delays; (c) one instrument approach and possible missed approach at destination; and (d) any other conditions that may delay arrival of the aircraft at the destination gate.
- FAA means the Federal Aviation Administration, an operating administration of the Department of Transportation.
- Facility means a carrier’s aircraft and any portion of an airport that a carrier owns, leases, or controls (e.g., structures, roads, walks, parking lots, ticketing areas, baggage drop-off and retrieval sites, gates, other boarding locations, loading bridges) normally used by passengers or other members of the public.
- Flight-related services mean functions related to air travel including, but not limited to, ticket purchase, rebooking cancelled flights, seat selection, and obtaining boarding passes or bag tags.
- High-contrast captioning means captioning that is at least as easy to read as white letters on a consistent black background.
- Indirect carrier means a person not directly involved in the operation of an aircraft who sells air transportation services to the general public other than as an authorized agent of a carrier.
- Individual with a disability means any individual who has a physical or mental impairment that, on a permanent or temporary basis, substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. As used in this definition, the phrase:
(a) Physical or mental impairment means:
(1) Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory including speech organs, cardio-vascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine; or
(2) Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
The term physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments; cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, drug addiction, and alcoholism.
(b) Major life activities means functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
(c) Has a record of such impairment means has a history of, or has been classified, or misclassified, as having a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
(d) Is regarded as having an impairment means:
(1) Has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities but that is treated by an air carrier as constituting such a limitation;
(2) Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity only as a result of the attitudes of others toward such an impairment; or
(3) Has none of the impairments set forth in this definition but is treated by an air carrier as having such an impairment.
- On-demand air taxi means an air taxi operator that carries passengers or property and is not a commuter carrier as defined in this section.
- PHMSA means the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an operating administration of the Department of Transportation.
- POC means portable oxygen concentrator.
- Primary (or Main) Web site means the Web site that is accessed upon entering the uniform resource locator (e.g., www.carriername.com, www.airline designator code.com) in an Internet browser from a standard desktop or laptop computer where the carrier advertises or sells air transportation to the public.
- Qualified individual with a disability means an individual with a disability—
(a) Who, as a passenger (referred to as a “passenger with a disability”),
(1) With respect to obtaining a ticket for air transportation on a carrier, offers, or makes a good faith attempt to offer, to purchase or otherwise validly to obtain such a ticket;
(2) With respect to obtaining air transportation, or other services or accommodations required by this Part,
(i) Buys or otherwise validly obtains, or makes a good faith effort to obtain, a ticket for air transportation on a carrier and presents himself or herself at the airport for the purpose of traveling on the flight to which the ticket pertains; and
(ii) Meets reasonable, nondiscriminatory contract of carriage requirements applicable to all passengers; or
(b) Who, with respect to accompanying or meeting a traveler, using ground transportation, using terminal facilities, or obtaining information about schedules, fares, reservations, or policies, takes those actions necessary to use facilities or services offered by an air carrier to the general public, with reasonable accommodations, as needed, provided by the carrier.
- Scheduled service means any flight scheduled in the current edition of the Official Airline Guide, the carrier’s published schedule, or the computer reservation system used by the carrier.
- Shared-use automated airport kiosk means a self-service transaction machine that is jointly owned, controlled or leased by an airport operator and carriers and/or an independent service provider and that provides carrier software applications which enable customers to independently access flight-related services.
- TSA means the Transportation Security Administration, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.
- United States or U.S. means the United States of America, including its territories and possessions.
Subpart B- Nondiscrimination and Access to Services and Information
§382.11 What is the general nondiscrimination requirement of this part?
(a) As a carrier, you must not do any of the following things, either directly or through a contractual, licensing, or other arrangement:
(1) You must not discriminate against any qualified individual with a disability, by reason of such disability, in the provision of air transportation;
(2) You must not require a qualified individual with a disability to accept special services (including, but not limited to, preboarding) that the individual does not request. However, you may require preboarding as a condition of receiving certain seating or in-cabin stowage accommodations, as specified in §§382.83(c), 382.85(b), and 382.123(a) of this part.
(3) You must not exclude a qualified individual with a disability from or deny the person the benefit of any air transportation or related services that are available to other persons, except where specifically permitted by this Part. This is true even if there are separate or different services available for individuals with a disability, except when specifically permitted by another section of this Part; and
(4) You must not take any adverse action against an individual (e.g., refusing to provide transportation) because the individual asserts, on his or her own behalf or through or on behalf of others, rights protected by this part or the Air Carrier Access Act.
(b) As an indirect carrier, you must comply with §382.17 through 382.157 of this part when providing facilities or services to passengers that would have otherwise been provided by a direct air carrier.
§382.19 May carriers refuse to provide transportation on the basis of disability?
(a) As a carrier, you must not refuse to provide transportation to a passenger with a disability on the basis of his or her disability, except as specifically permitted by this part.
(b) You must not refuse to provide transportation to a passenger with a disability because the person’s disability results in appearance or involuntary behavior that may offend, annoy, or inconvenience crewmembers or other passengers.
(c) You may refuse to provide transportation to any passenger on the basis of safety, as provided in 49 U.S.C. 44902 or 14 CFR 121.533, or to any passenger whose carriage would violate FAA or TSA requirements or applicable requirements of a foreign government.
(1) You can determine that there is a disability-related safety basis for refusing to provide transportation to a passenger with a disability if you are able to demonstrate that the passenger poses a direct threat (see definition in §382.3). In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat, you must make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence, to ascertain:
(i) The nature, duration, and severity of the risk;
(ii) The probability that the potential harm to the health and safety of others will actually occur; and
(iii) Whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk.
(2) If you determine that the passenger does pose a direct threat, you must select the least restrictive response from the point of view of the passenger, consistent with protecting the health and safety of others. For example, you must not refuse transportation to the passenger if you can protect the health and safety of others by means short of a refusal.
(3) In exercising this authority, you must not act inconsistently with the provisions of this part.
(4) If your actions are inconsistent with any of the provisions of this part, you are subject to enforcement action under Subpart K of this part.
(d) If you refuse to provide transportation to a passenger on his or her originally-scheduled flight on a basis relating to the individual’s disability, you must provide to the person a written statement of the reason for the refusal. This statement must include the specific basis for the carrier’s opinion that the refusal meets the standards of paragraph (c) of this section or is otherwise specifically permitted by this part. You must provide this written statement to the person within 10 calendar days of the refusal of transportation.
§382.33 May carriers impose other restrictions on passengers with a disability that they do not impose on other passengers?
(a) As a carrier, you must not subject passengers with a disability to restrictions that do not apply to other passengers, except as otherwise permitted in this part (e.g., advance notice requirements for certain services permitted by §382.27).
(b) Restrictions you must not impose on passengers with a disability include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Restricting passengers” movement within the terminal;
(2) Requiring passengers to remain in a holding area or other location in order to receive transportation, services, or accommodations;
(3) Making passengers sit on blankets on the aircraft;
(4) Making passengers wear badges or other special identification (e.g., similar to badges worn by unaccompanied minors); or
(5) Otherwise mandating separate treatment for passengers with a disability, unless permitted or required by this part or other applicable Federal requirements.
Subpart C—Information for Passengers
§382.41 What flight-related information must carriers provide to qualified individuals with a disability?
As a carrier, you must provide the following information, on request, to qualified individuals with a disability or persons making inquiries on their behalf concerning the accessibility of the aircraft expected to make a particular flight. The information you provide must be specific to the aircraft you expect to use for the flight unless it is unfeasible for you to do so (e.g., because unpredictable circumstances such as weather or a mechanical problem require substitution of another aircraft that could affect the location or availability of an accommodation). The required information is:
(a) The specific location of seats, if any, with movable armrests (i.e., by row and seat number);
(b) The specific location of seats (i.e., by row and seat number) that the carrier, consistent with this part, does not make available to passengers with a disability (e.g., exit row seats);
(c) Any aircraft-related, service-related or other limitations on the ability to accommodate passengers with a disability, including limitations on the availability of level-entry boarding to the aircraft at any airport involved with the flight. You must provide this information to any passenger who states that he or she uses a wheelchair for boarding, even if the passenger does not explicitly request the information.
(d) Any limitations on the availability of storage facilities, in the cabin or in the cargo bay, for mobility aids or other assistive devices commonly used by passengers with a disability, including storage in the cabin of a passenger’s wheelchair as provided in §§382.67 and 382.123 of this part;
(e) Whether the aircraft has an accessible lavatory; and
(f) The types of services to passengers with a disability that are or are not available on the flight.
Subpart H- Services on Aircraft
§382.117 Must carriers permit passengers with a disability to travel with service animals?
(a) As a carrier, you must permit a service animal to accompany a passenger with a disability.
(1) You must not deny transportation to a service animal on the basis that its carriage may offend or annoy carrier personnel or persons traveling on the aircraft.
(2) On a flight segment scheduled to take 8 hours or more, you may, as a condition of permitting a service animal to travel in the cabin, require the passenger using the service animal to provide documentation that the animal will not need to relieve itself on the flight or that the animal can relieve itself in a way that does not create a health or sanitation issue on the flight.
(b) You must permit the service animal to accompany the passenger with a disability at any seat in which the passenger sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed to facilitate an emergency evacuation.
(c) If a service animal cannot be accommodated at the seat location of the passenger with a disability who is using the animal, you must offer the passenger the opportunity to move with the animal to another seat location, if present on the aircraft, where the animal can be accommodated.
(d) As evidence that an animal is a service animal, you must accept identification cards, other written documentation, presence of harnesses, tags, or the credible verbal assurances of a qualified individual with a disability using the animal.
(e) If a passenger seeks to travel with an animal that is used as an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you are not required to accept the animal for transportation in the cabin unless the passenger provides you current documentation (i.e., no older than one year from the date of the passenger’s scheduled initial flight) on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional (e.g., psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, including a medical doctor specifically treating the passenger’s mental or emotional disability) stating the following:
(1) The passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—Fourth Edition (DSM IV);
(2) The passenger needs the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger’s destination;
(3) The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional, and the passenger is under his or her professional care; and
(4) The date and type of the mental health professional’s license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued.
(f) You are never required to accommodate certain unusual service animals (e.g., snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders) as service animals in the cabin. With respect to all other animals, including unusual or exotic animals that are presented as service animals (e.g., miniature horses, pigs, monkeys), as a carrier you must determine whether any factors preclude their traveling in the cabin as service animals (e.g., whether the animal is too large or heavy to be accommodated in the cabin, whether the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others, whether it would cause a significant disruption of cabin service, whether it would be prohibited from entering a foreign country that is the flight’s destination). If no such factors preclude the animal from traveling in the cabin, you must permit it to do so. However, as a foreign carrier, you are not required to carry service animals other than dogs.
(g) Whenever you decide not to accept an animal as a service animal, you must explain the reason for your decision to the passenger and document it in writing. A copy of the explanation must be provided to the passenger either at the airport, or within 10 calendar days of the incident.
(h) You must promptly take all steps necessary to comply with foreign regulations (e.g., animal health regulations) needed to permit the legal transportation of a passenger’s service animal from the U.S. into a foreign airport.
(i) Guidance concerning the carriage of service animals generally is found in the preamble of this rule. Guidance on the steps necessary to legally transport service animals on flights from the U.S. into the United Kingdom is found in 72 FR 8268-8277, (February 26, 2007).
[Doc. No. DOT-OST-2004-19482, 73 FR 27665, May 13, 2008, as amended at 74 FR 11471, Mar. 18, 2009]
Subpart K- Complaints and Enforcement Procedures
§382.151 What are the requirements for providing Complaints Resolution Officials?
(a) As a carrier providing service using aircraft with 19 or more passenger seats, you must designate one or more CROs.
(b) As a U.S. carrier, you must make a CRO available at each airport you serve during all times you are operating at that airport. As a foreign carrier, you must make a CRO available at each airport serving flights you operate that begin or end at a U.S. airport. You may make the CRO available in person at the airport or via telephone, at no cost to the passenger. If a telephone link to the CRO is used, TTY service or a similarly effective technology must be available so that persons with hearing impairments may readily communicate with the CRO. You must make CRO service available in the language(s) in which you make your services available to the general public.
(c) You must make passengers with a disability aware of the availability of a CRO and how to contact the CRO in the following circumstances:
(1) In any situation in which any person complains or raises a concern with your personnel about discrimination, accommodations, or services with respect to passengers with a disability, and your personnel do not immediately resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction or provide a requested accommodation, your personnel must immediately inform the passenger of the right to contact a CRO and then contact a CRO on the passenger’s behalf or provide the passenger a means to do so (e.g., a phone, a phone card plus the location and/or phone number of the CRO available at the airport). Your personnel must provide this information to the passenger in a format he or she can use.
(2) Your reservation agents, contractors, and Web sites must provide information equivalent to that required by paragraph (c)(1) of this section to passengers with a disability using those services who complain or raise a concern about a disability-related issue.
(d) Each CRO must be thoroughly familiar with the requirements of this part and the carrier’s procedures with respect to passengers with a disability. The CRO is intended to be the carrier’s “expert” in compliance with the requirements of this part.
(e) You must ensure that each of your CROs has the authority to make dispositive resolution of complaints on behalf of the carrier. This means that the CRO must have the power to overrule the decision of any other personnel, except that the CRO is not required to be given authority to countermand a decision of the pilot-in-command of an aircraft based on safety.
§382.153 What actions do CROs take on complaints?
When a complaint is made directly to a CRO for a carrier providing service using aircraft with 19 or more passenger seats, the CRO must promptly take dispositive action as follows:
(a) If the complaint is made to a CRO before the action or proposed action of carrier personnel has resulted in a violation of a provision of this part, the CRO must take, or direct other carrier personnel to take, whatever action is necessary to ensure compliance with this part.
(b) If an alleged violation of a provision of this part has already occurred, and the CRO agrees that a violation has occurred, the CRO must provide to the complainant a written statement setting forth a summary of the facts and what steps, if any, the carrier proposes to take in response to the violation.
(c) If the CRO determines that the carrier’s action does not violate a provision of this part, the CRO must provide to the complainant a written statement including a summary of the facts and the reasons, under this part, for the determination.
(d) The statements required to be provided under this section must inform the complainant of his or her right to pursue DOT enforcement action under this part. The CRO must provide the statement in person to the complainant at the airport if possible; otherwise, it must be forwarded to the complainant within 30 calendar days of the complaint.
§382.155 How must carriers respond to written complaints?
(a) As a carrier providing service using aircraft with 19 or more passenger seats, you must respond to written complaints received by any means (e.g., letter, fax, e-mail, electronic instant message) concerning matters covered buy this part.
(b) As a passenger making a written complaint, you must state whether you had contacted a CRO in the matter, provide the name of the CRO and the date of the contact, if available, and enclose any written response you received from the CRO.
(c) As a carrier, you are not required to respond to a complaint postmarked or transmitted more than 45 days after the date of the incident, except for complaints referred to you by the Department of Transportation.
(d) As a carrier, you must make a dispositive written response to a written disability complaint within 30 days of its receipt. The response must specifically admit or deny that a violation of this part has occurred.
(1) If you admit that a violation has occurred, you must provide to the complainant a written statement setting forth a summary of the facts and the steps, if any, you will take in response to the violation.
(2) If you deny that a violation has occurred, your response must include a summary of the facts and your reasons, under this part, for the determination.
(3) Your response must also inform the complainant of his or her right to pursue DOT enforcement action under this part.
§382.157 What are carriers’ obligations for recordkeeping and reporting on disability-related complaints?
(a) For the purposes of this section, a disability-related complaint means a specific written expression of dissatisfaction received from, or submitted on behalf, of an individual with a disability concerning a difficulty associated with the person’s disability, which the person experienced when using or attempting to use an air carrier’s or foreign carrier’s services.
(b) If you are a carrier covered by this part, conducting passenger operations with at least one aircraft having a designed seating capacity of more than 60 passengers, this section applies to you. As a foreign carrier, you are covered by this section only with respect to disability-related complaints associated with any flight segment originating or terminating in the United States.
(c) You must categorize disability-related complaints that you receive according to the type of disability and nature of complaint. Data concerning a passenger’s disability must be recorded separately in the following areas: vision impaired, hearing impaired, vision and hearing impaired, mentally impaired, communicable disease, allergies (e.g., food allergies, chemical sensitivity), paraplegic, quadriplegic, other wheelchair, oxygen, stretcher, other assistive device (cane, respirator, etc.), and other disability. Data concerning the alleged discrimination or service problem related to the disability must be separately recorded in the following areas: refusal to board, refusal to board without an attendant, security issues concerning disability, aircraft not accessible, airport not accessible, advance notice dispute, seating accommodation, failure to provide adequate or timely assistance, damage to assistive device, storage and delay of assistive device, service animal problem, unsatisfactory information, and other.
(d) You must submit an annual report summarizing the disability-related complaints that you received during the prior calendar year using the form specified at the following internet address: http://382reporting.ost.dot.gov. You must submit this report by the last Monday in January of each year for complaints received during the prior calendar year. You must make submissions through the World Wide Web except for situations where you can demonstrate that you would suffer undue hardship if not permitted to submit the data via paper copies, disks, or e-mail, and DOT has approved an exception. All fields in the form must be completed; carriers are to enter “0” where there were no complaints in a given category. Each annual report must contain the following certification signed by your authorized representative: “I, the undersigned, do certify that this report has been prepared under my direction in accordance with the regulations in 14 CFR Part 382. I affirm that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, this is a true, correct, and complete report.” Electronic signatures will be accepted.
(e) You must retain correspondence and record of action taken on all disability-related complaints for three years after receipt of the complaint or creation of the record of action taken. You must make these records available to Department of Transportation officials at their request.
(f)(1) As either carrier in a codeshare relationship, you must comply with paragraphs (c) through (e) of this section for—
(i) Disability-related complaints you receive from or on behalf of passengers with respect to difficulties encountered in connection with service you provide;
(ii) Disability-related complaints you receive from or on behalf of passengers when you are unable to reach agreement with your codeshare partner as to whether the complaint involves service you provide or service your codeshare partner provides; and
(iii) Disability-related complaints forwarded by another carrier or governmental agency with respect to difficulties encountered in connection with service you provide.
(2) As either carrier in a codeshare relationship, you must forward to your codeshare partner disability-related complaints you receive from or on behalf of passengers with respect to difficulties encountered in connection with service provided by your code-sharing partner.
(g) Each carrier, except for carriers in codeshare situations, shall comply with paragraphs (c) through (e) of this section for disability-related complaints it receives from or on behalf of passengers as well as disability-related complaints forwarded by another carrier or governmental agency with respect to difficulties encountered in connection with service it provides.
(h) Carriers that do not submit their data via the Web shall use the disability-related complaint data form specified in appendix A to this part when filing their annual report summarizing the disability-related complaints they received. The report shall be mailed, by the date specified in paragraph (d) of this section, to the following address: U.S. Department of Transportation, Aviation Consumer Protection Division (C-75), 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building, Room W96-432, Washington, DC 20590.
§382.159 How are complaints filed with DOT?
(a) Any person believing that a carrier has violated any provision of this part may seek assistance or file an informal complaint at the Department of Transportation no later than 6 months after the date of the incident by either:
(1) Going to the web site of the Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division at http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov and selecting “Air Travel Problems and Complaints,” or
(2) Writing to Department of Transportation, Aviation Consumer Protection Division (C-75), 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590.
(b) Any person believing that a carrier has violated any provision of this part may also file a formal complaint under the applicable procedures of 14 CFR part 302.
(c) You must file a formal complaint under this part within six months of the incident on which the complaint is based in order to ensure that the Department of Transportation will investigate the matter.