Information Bulletin - Implementation Guides Available on Space for Service Dogs and the Use of Tactile Row Markers

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September 2009

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The Canadian Transportation Agency has produced two implementation guides to help Canadian air carriers meet two provisions in the Code of Practice: Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, which are applicable to fixed wing aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats.

These guides address:

  • space for service dogs onboard aircraft (section 2.6), and
  • tactile row markers (section 2.7).

The guides were developed following consultations with organizations for the blind, professional service animal training institutions, air carriers and the Agency's Accessibility Advisory Committee.  The Agency's Advisory Committee is made up of a diverse group of organizations for persons with disabilities, including those with sensory, mobility and cognitive impairments, as well as industry representatives.

The guides also include important information for passengers with disabilities, travel agencies, tour operators, and Canadian aircraft manufacturers.


The Implementation Guide Regarding Space for Service Dogs Onboard Large Aircraft provides information to help carriers determine the amount of space required to accommodate service dogs of various sizes.

The Code of Practice sets out that each section of a cabin (economy, business class, etc.) has seats, other than exit row seats, that each should provide sufficient floor space for the service animal to lie down. Sufficient floor space allows both the person with a disability and the service animal to travel safely, while preventing injury and extreme discomfort to the person and will ensure the animal is able to carry out its duties.

The Agency expects that, no later than December 1, 2009, air carriers will implement uniform policies and procedures to ensure that, when requests are made at least 48 hours prior to a scheduled flight departure, persons with disabilities travelling with service dogs will be assigned seating with sufficient floor space. These policies and procedures should also provide that where such a request is made less than 48 hours prior to departure, the air carrier will make a reasonable effort to provide the service.

Note: Persons with disabilities use a variety of types of animals to assist them in daily living.  At this time, professional service animal training institutions in Canada only certify dogs as trained assistance animals. The guide, therefore, only deals with space requirements for dogs.


The Air Code sets out that air carriers should place tactile markers to indicate row numbers on overhead bins or on passenger aisle seats in order to provide persons who are blind or who have visual impairments independent access to their seats.  The Implementation Guide Regarding Tactile Row Markers Onboard Large Aircraft provides useful information about the location, size, font and dimensions of markers.

The Agency recognizes the need for flexibility with respect to the type and placement of tactile row markers in light of different aircraft and cabin designs. As such, air carriers can install permanent or removable tactile row markers and locate them on either overhead bins or on aisle seats.  Carriers are, however, encouraged to be consistent in the location and the type of tactile markers with respect to their own fleet.

Although installation of permanent tactile row markers may not be possible within the implementation timeframe, removable tactile row markers should be employed, either as an ongoing method of providing independent access to a person's seat or as a temporary solution until such time as permanent tactile row markers can be installed.

The Agency expects that carriers will install tactile row markers by March 31, 2010.

About the Agency

The Canadian Transportation Agency is an independent Government of Canada administrative tribunal. Its mandate includes the responsibility to eliminate undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities within the federal transportation network. Its mission is to administer Government of Canada transportation legislation, regulations and policies to help achieve an efficient and accessible transportation network.

Both guides are available for download on our website at www.cta.gc.caand in print and alternative formats by calling

1-888-222-2592 or
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