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Assistance dog Sun barred from Jetstar flight in dispute over ‘approved training organisation’


Why a disabled man who hadn’t flown on a plane in a decade is barred from taking his assistance dog Sun on a Jetstar flight

  • Calum Sanderson booked Jetstar flight from Tasmania to Gold Coast in January 
  • After he checked first, companion dog Sun was barred from flying by the airline
  • Jetstar said the golden retriever wasn’t trained by an accepted organisation 


A passenger with a severe anxiety disorder wasn’t allowed to take his service dog on a Jetstar flights despite being told before booking he could. 

Calum Sanderson hadn’t flown in more than a decade but worked up the courage in January after making strides against his anxiety, thanks largely to the support of his golden retriever Sun. 

His father Tim Sanderson spoke to a Jetstar before buying the flight from Tasmania to the Gold Coast and was told all Sun needed to fly was a service dog ID card and a letter from a GP.

Calum Sanderson has made huge strides against his anxiety thanks to the help of his assistance dog (pictured together) 

The agent said in the online chat he would need to contact customer service again once a ticket had been booked to confirm Jetstar Travel clearance for the dog.

Mr Sanderson said there was no way he would be able to take the flight without his service dog. 

‘I couldn’t even check my letterbox [before getting Sun] but she helps me go to the shops and get groceries, she’s a comfort net,’ Mr Sanderson told the ABC.

They booked the flight and sent through the required documentation, which included a service dog ID card from not-for-profit mindDog that trains and accredits companion dogs. 

But Jetstar this time refused to let Sun fly because the organisation that trained her wasn’t on an approved list.

The airline said service dogs needed to attend a an approved training organisation under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009 (Qld) or by an organisation that is a member of Assistance Dogs International.

Tim Sanderson said he was shocked at the bureaucratic response, especially after the effort his son made to push himself to take the trip. 

Jetstar gave Me Sanderson a refund after it told him the dog wasn't trained by a recognised organisation and wouldn't be allowed to board the plane (file image)

Jetstar gave Me Sanderson a refund after it told him the dog wasn’t trained by a recognised organisation and wouldn’t be allowed to board the plane (file image) 

Golden Retriever Sun (pictured) has a service dog ID card from not-for-profit and accreditation organisation mindDog

Golden Retriever Sun (pictured) has a service dog ID card from not-for-profit and accreditation organisation mindDog

‘They seemed to accept that he needed an assistance dog, but were still prepared to deny him the right to actually travel with the dog,’ he said. 

He believed Jetstar had a responsibility under the Disability Discrimination Act to treat a person with a disability with dignity and respect.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie wrote to Jetstar owner Qantas on behalf of the Sandersons and said its response was hurtful and did not show good faith.

‘Instead of saying you can’t fly here’s a refund, [Jetstar] should have said let’s sit down and work out how to resolve this because there are a lot of Australians is situations like Calum,’ he said.

Calum Sanderson said he would like the airline show more compassion to help people in situations such as his visit friends and family.

Jetstar told Daily Mail Australia there is a check box that must to be ticked before booking that outline the training requirements for service dogs.

‘All assistance dogs are welcome on our flights provided they meet the necessary criteria in accordance with civil aviation laws, which is outlined on our website and at the time of booking,’ the airline said. 

The airline apologised for the misunderstanding and said Mr Sanderson has also been offered a full refund. 

Calum's father Tim Sanderson said Jetstar should have shown more respect towards his son and his requirements (pictured together)

Calum’s father Tim Sanderson said Jetstar should have shown more respect towards his son and his requirements (pictured together) 

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