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Service and Emotional Support Animals

Porter welcomes certified, professionally-trained service animals and emotional support dogs in the aircraft cabin, as long as the animal is providing disability-related assistance to a passenger. If you plan on travelling with your service animal we recommend that you notify us at least 48 hours prior to departure, so that we can best accommodate you and your animal.

Online check-in is available; however, you will be required to collect your boarding pass at the airport check-in counter at least 90 minutes prior to your flight’s scheduled departure time. The required documentation and behaviour of the animal will be assessed at the airport to ensure safety requirements are met before approving your animal for travel.

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Certified service dog

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What is a service dog?

A service dog is trained to perform a specific task and/or function to assist an individual with a disability in the management of their disability (such as pathfinding, providing stability, alerting to sounds etc.).

To travel with a service dog, you must provide your service dog certificate from the training institution at least 48 hours ahead of your scheduled flight.

Acceptance guidelines

Porter will accept your service dog for carriage without charge if the dog has:

  • Certified, in writing, as having been trained to assist a person with a disability by an Assistance Dogs International (ADI)- accredited institution. Service dogs that are either not trained by a program accredited by ADI or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), or that have received online training, are generally not accepted and currently assessed on a case-by-case basis, at Porter’s discretion.
  • Properly harnessed in accordance with standards established by a professional service animal institution.

Our Disability Assistance Desk must receive and validate the required documentation prior to the time of travel. Porter will make reasonable efforts to accommodate requests made within 48 hours of your departure.

Porter is entitled to obtain assurances that we can safely transport your dog and that the dog behaves properly in a public setting. You may be asked to present supporting documents at the airport.

Service dogs must remain under the control of their handler at all times and are not permitted to occupy a seat or sit in an exit row; they must fit in the foot space of the seat assigned to the service animal handler. Porter does not accept service dogs in training.

When travelling to or from the United States, Porter requires all passengers flying with a service dog to provide, at least 48 hours prior to departure, a signed and dated U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form.

Passengers who book a flight scheduled to depart within 48 hours may present the form at the airport. You may also have to answer questions about your dogs’ training, and our agents may assess the dog’s behaviour while at the airport.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all dogs entering the United States to be immunized against rabies. Proof of vaccination is required before air travel begins and should be presented at the airport.

Emotional support and psychiatric service animals

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What is an emotional support animal?

Emotional support animals provide comfort, affection and companionship to aid in emotional and/or psychiatric therapy of individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental or emotional disorder.

These animals are not trained service animals, as they are not trained to perform a specific task and/or function to assist an individual with a psychological disability.

Acceptance guidelines

Please note that Porter accepts only dogs as emotional support or psychiatric service animals. In line with Canadian Transportation Agency requirements, emotional support or psychiatric service dogs must remain in an approved carrier for the duration of travel and therefore cannot be lap held.

To travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you must provide supporting documentation dated within 1 year of your scheduled flight. It must be on letterhead from either a licensed medical or mental health professional to be presented to an agent upon check-in stating the following:

  • Title, address, license number and jurisdiction (province/state/country where it was issued), phone number, and signature of the mental health professional.
  • The passenger has a mental health related disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM 5).
  • 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.
  • The person listed in the letter is under the care of the assessing physician or mental health professional.

Our Disability Assistance Desk must receive and validate the required documentation prior to the time of travel. Porter will make reasonable efforts to accommodate requests made within 48 hours of your departure.

Verification of documentation may include Porter contacting your mental health care professional. If we are unable to validate the documentation or if the advance notification is not given, you may be required to transport your animal as a pet, and in that case, pet policy including fees will apply.

Travel restrictions

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Porter will not accept animals that could pose a safety hazard or a public health concern. Snakes, reptiles, ferrets, rodents, farm poultry or animals with hooves fall within this category of animals.

An animal may be denied transport if it:

  • Poses any type of health and safety threat
  • Exceeds a safe size and weight
  • Has not been trained to behave properly in a public setting (growling, barking or exhibiting other aggressive behaviour)
  • May cause a significant disruption to cabin service

Porter does not accept for transport service animals in training, rescue dogs or therapy dogs.

Seating options

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Porter will allocate an appropriate seat for you. Due to regulatory and safety requirements, exit row seats cannot be assigned when travelling with a service animal.

  • A service animal must remain in the floor space where you are sitting and may not get in the way of an aisle or any area that needs to remain clear for emergencies.
  • Please understand that with larger service dogs, subject to space availability, additional floor space can be arranged free of charge on domestic flights. On transborder flights, additional floor space may be requested by purchasing a second seat. However, in some cases, we may need to re-accommodate you if the dog encroaches on other passengers or extends into aisles, which would be a violation of safety regulations.
  • No animals are allowed to occupy a seat.

If you intend to travel with your service animal on your lap, please note that:

  • The supporting documentation from a licensed medical or mental health professional must indicate that you require your service animal to be lap held and should be submitted to our Disability Assistance Desk at least 48 hours prior to departure.
  • Due to safety reasons, your service animal may be held on your lap, only if it is no larger than an infant and fits comfortably on your lap.

If you are traveling with an emotional support dog, please note that it must remain in its carrier at all times, as per the requirements of the Canadian Transportation Agency, and therefore cannot be lap held.

Animal relief areas

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In the event that your service animal needs to relieve itself, please use the designated animal relief areas. Please ask our airport staff for directions or assistance.

If you need to leave the secure boarding area to relieve your animal, you must go through the security screening process again.

Connecting flights

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When booking your reservation, please consider that extra time may be required when connecting to another flight to allow for customs/security clearance and relief of your dog.

Interline travel

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When connecting to or from any other airline, including interline flights; please contact them directly for their acceptance requirements and restrictions.

International travel

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When travelling outside of Canada, keep in mind that restrictions on the entry of animals vary by country:

  • It is your responsibility to contact the consulate or embassy of the countries you will be entering to confirm specific government regulations regarding the entry of your service animal.
  • It is recommended that you always carry all available certifications for the animal, such as international health certificate, proof of vaccination or a training certificate.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all dogs entering the United States to be immunized against rabies. Proof of vaccination is required before air travel begins.