FAA issues new guidance for service animal relief areas at airports

The FAA recently issued new guidelines for the appropriate size, surface, and location of service animal relief areas (SARA) at civil airports with 10,000 or more enplanements.

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FAA consulted service animal training organizations and users of service animals in drafting SARA guidelines. The guidelines have been added to FAA’s Advisory Circular, “Access to Airports by Individuals with Disabilities.”

The guidance states that at least one SARA must be located within a public sterile area of each terminal, but it recommends additional optional SARAs depending on the size and configuration of airports.

“The goal is to improve accessibility to SARAs and provide a higher level of service for travelers and their service animals,” the guidance states.

Each SARA should be large enough to accommodate an individual in a wheelchair with a service animal on a five-foot leash. And each SARA should consist of two surfaces. A hard, non-slip surface inside the entrance, and a softer surface consisting of a material like gravel or mulch, the guidance states.

Additionally, the guidance states that SARAs should have fencing to contain animals, and a sink for handwashing and filling animal water bowls.

The new guidance will be mandatory for civil airports with more than 10,000 enplanements that Receive federal funds through the Airport Improvement Program or Passenger Facility Charges program.