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Assistance Dogs flying high with Pet Passports

Assistance Dog Endal and partner Allen Parton trying out the high life for size!

New guidelines, allowing assistance dogs to travel with their owners on long haul flights under the Pet Passport Scheme, were launched at Gatwick Airport on Monday, 04 April.

Assistance dogs can now travel in the cabin of airlines with their owners, for a recommended maximum journey time of ten hours. The revised arrangements will be valid on certain long haul routes into Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester, approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to carry animals into the UK under the Pet Passport scheme.

Previously, Assistance dogs entering the UK on long haul routes had to travel in the hold of the aircraft. The charities had expressed concern that the dogs would become disorientated and distressed, meaning they might not be ready to work once reunited with owners at the destination airport.

Tom Pey, Guide Dogs‚ Director of Policy and Development said:

‘We’re delighted with the co-operation of BAA, airlines and Defra in allowing assistance dogs to travel with their owners on long haul flights.

‘Assistance dogs and their disabled owners form an extraordinary partnership, and it’s essential that this companionship remains whilst in transit.’

Charlotte Atkins MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, commented:

‘For many years, assistance dog users have been able to take their dogs into the passenger cabin for domestic flights. But for those who wanted to travel further afield the choice in many cases was to put the dog in the aircraft hold, or to leave it at home. A stark - and, frankly, inappropriate - choice for any assistance dog user to have to make.

‘I am delighted that that the assistance dog organisations, the air industry, regulators and assistance dog charities have worked together to develop an effective system for allowing assistance dogs to travel with their owners in the passenger cabin of aircraft. This will make a real difference to many thousands of disabled people and their assistance dogs.’

Assistance dogs UK (ADUK) is now campaigning for more airlines and airports to support the Pet Passport initiative, so that assistance dog users have a real choice of routes and carriers when planning their journey.