Many service dog handlers who fly with their service dogs, choose to take advantage of ‘pre-boarding’ allowed by the airlines they are flying with. By pre-boarding the airplane you are able to take a bit more time to ensure that both you and your dog are settled and comfortable before the remainder of the passengers begin to board the plan. This extra time can definitely be nice if you are new to flying with a service dog, are nervous or it is your one of your service dog’s first flights.
Once you have found the row that your seat will be in and figured out where your exact seat is, if your dog wears a guide, balance or other type of harness and you feel it would be more comfortable for your dog to be in a small space for a lengthy period of time without the harness on, most airlines will allow you to remove it once you are boarded as long as your dog remains safely under your control at all times while you and your service dog are on the airplane. After you have your dog with the appropriate gear on or off, direct your dog to the appropriate seat in your row before you sit down yourself. If you are in a bulkhead seat, then ask your dog to sit or if your dog knows a cue to lie down in a small curled up position (which is advisable to teach ahead of time, this can easily be done by teaching your dog to lie down on a small mat all curled up) ask him to lie down. If you are in a regular seat, then ask your dog to sit with his head facing your seat, then you sit down and as you ask your dog to lie down, slide his rear end under the space where you would normally put your personal item or carry-on luggage. Once your dog is in position, and you have taken your seat, buckle your seat belt and place each of your feet on either side of your dog. By doing this you help to ensure that your dog will not accidentally start to encroach on the passenger sitting beside you’s foot room or space.
Remember that on an airplane, as on any type of transit, your service dog is not allowed to sit on a seat or in your lap at any time. Your service dog must remain on the floor at all times, preferably in a sit or down position.