The DOT has been a busy little agency of late, with two sets of proposed access regulations released within days of each other. The first set, which was issued late last month involves accessible airline websites and airport kiosks; while the most recent set addresses airport service animal relief areas.
Although US and foreign airlines are currently required to work with airport operators to provide service animal relief areas at US airports; there are no standards that dictate the access specifications, locations or even the number of relief areas required.
And even though the proposed regulations only require one relief area per terminal, the DOT realizes that this may not be enough, especially in larger airports; so they are seeking public comments on that issue. Additionally, they’d like public input on where the relief areas should be located — before or after the security checkpoint.
I’m a little conflicted on that last issue. It would be easier for travelers to have the relief area inside the secured area; however people picking up passengers would not be able to access those. So if I can only have one relief area per terminal I would probably prefer to have it in the secure area. And the only reason that the secure area wins is that I’m thinking that someone coming from home would probably have had a recent opportunity to toilet their service animal — that is compared to someone who has been on a long haul flight. Ideally I think there should be two — one in the secured area and one before the security checkpoint. And to be truthful, in some large airports that’s probably not even enough.
In any case, it’s important to chime in on this matter, no matter what you think.
The public comment period is now closed.