Southwest Airlines Revises Policy For Emotional Support And Trained Service Animals
Southwest Airlines has announced that it will ban emotional support animals from all flights effective March 1. This follows similar announcements from other airlines, after a rule change was issued by the Department of Transportation in December. Starting in March, the airline will accept only trained service dogs for travel and will no longer transport emotional support animals.
With this revision, Southwest Airlines will only allow service dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability to travel with the Customer. The types of disability include a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability and only dogs will be accepted (including those for psychiatric service). No other species are acceptable as a trained service animal.
As part of this change, customers traveling with trained service dogs now must present a complete, and accurate, DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form at the gate or ticket counter on their day of travel to affirm a service animal’s health, behavior, and training. Customers should complete the form after booking their travel. It will be available both on the airline’s website and at airport locations.
Customers may still travel with some animals as part of the airline’s existing pets program for a charge; however, the animals must meet all applicable requirements regarding in-cabin stowage and species (dogs and cats only). Customers who currently have reservations for travel with unaccepted animals after Feb. 28, 2021 may contact Southwest for more information and assistance. Southwest’s policies for traveling with trained service animals can be reviewed here.
Alaska Airlines was the first airline to change its rules regarding emotional support animals. American Airlines and other followed soon after.