The “Guide Dog” Scam Infiltrates Turkish Airlines – Live and Let’s Fly

The "Guide Dog" Scam Infiltrates Turkish Airlines - Live and Let's Fly

A viral video flaunts a very cute dog named Maya flying in-cabin on a Turkish Airlines longhaul flight between the USA and Istanbul. It appears the guide dog scam has infiltrated Turkish Airlines…

Take Your “Guide Dog” Onboard Turkish Airlines…

A video purports to show a dog named Maya boarding a Turkish Airlines flight and then flying in economy class:

✈️🥰 The longest flight Maya has ever had. 13 hours direct flight. She could handle it very well. Our longest flight was 10 hours before. Here is just 3 hours more 😀🐶

On Instagram,the video has amassed nearly 15,000 likes but also led to a very active discussion on why the dog was allowed onboard in the first place.

While Turkish Airlines does not allow emotional support animals per se, it does allow so-called “psychiatric service animals” (Turkish refers to them only as a service animal, but notes broard categories of acceptance) on flights between the USA and Turkey.

A service animal is a dog, regardless of breed or type, individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Only dogs are accepted as service animals for our flights.

We accept service dogs on Istanbul-USA and USA-Istanbul flights in accordance with U.S. DoT regulations. Passengers traveling with a service dog are required to provide related documents and obtain a booking confirmation at least 48 hours before departure. In addition, passengers travelling with SVAN on these routes are required to complete the U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation and U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation forms at least 48 hours before the flight.

In short, you only need to attest the dog is a service animal (a mile-wide loophole to bring your pet onboard for free) at least 48 hours before departure.

As you can see in the video above, Maya was able to freely walk through the cabin (on a leash) despite her large size. No kennel required…

Dogs On Planes. Can We Be Honest With Each Other?

Let me preface this by saying Maya is a gorgeous dog. While I do not personally understand it, I recognize the unique bond dogs have with their owners.

But at the same time, can we call a spade a spade?

This is not a blind or deaf person posting videos with sound and commentary on social media.

Instead, this is a cute dog.

I think it is fair to say that (almost) all pet dogs serve to bring psychological comfort to their owner, but how broad of a word are we willing to stretch disability to be? Is it sound public policy for anyone to be able to say they have a “sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability” without having to provide more details?


Seeing Maya makes me want to pick her up and cuddle her. But does she belong in the passenger cabin of an airplane? That’s a much tricker question and I lean toward no.

What do you think? In the interest of helping those who genuinely may need a service dog, do we need to let “free riders” skate by?

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