Southwest Airlines

  • Rules and Regulations for Flying With Emotional Support Animals on Southwest Airlines
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SSouthwest Airlines ESA (Pet) Policy

Southwest Airlines ESA (Pet) Policy

People suffering from emotional or mental disabilities like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD may feel difficulty when traveling on flights. Unfortunately, the new DOT guidelines no longer allow emotional support animals to fly in-cabin. Southwest Airlines, too, issued a statement on 25th January stating that it will no longer entertain emotional support animals. The airlines also emphasized that they will only allow service animals to access the airline's cabin without having to pay the pet fees. Rest assured, each pet will be subject to a $125 fee provided these pets are all relegated to their respective carriers.

Southwest Airlines is one of the most popular airlines in the country, and these rules are currently in effect. So, make sure that you take notice of the new Southwest airline policies to experience hassle-free flying with your pet.

Southwest Airline Traveling Requirements

If you are looking to travel with your ESA on Southwest Airlines, you need to abide by their rules and regulations. Let’s take a look at them.

  1. Southwest Airlines welcomes small cats and dogs well-placed inside a carrier, small enough to fit under the passenger seat.
  2. Southwest Airlines does not entertain in-cabin pet travel for international flights. Any itinerary that includes international flights will not allow pets.
  3. Pet transportation in and out of Hawaii is strictly prohibited. However, passengers are allowed to travel with their pets when traveling between Hawaiian islands.
  4. Pets flying with Southwest Airlines are subject to a single-way, per pet carrier fee of $95. In contrast to the fee structure of other airlines, the pet fees charged by Southwest Airlines are slightly inexpensive.
  5. Passengers traveling to Puerto Rico with their pets will be subject to certain guidelines farmed by the airline authorities.
  6. Pet carriers are considered carry-ons. No additional carry-ons are allowed.
  7. Southwest Airlines allows one pet per passenger. The carrier may contain two dogs or cats of the same species, as per the passenger requirements.
  8. The carrier must fit beneath the passenger seat, regardless of the no. of pets inside the carrier. This means that two small dogs or cats of the same species can travel per passenger.
  9. The pets must remain within the carrier at all times during the flight. Failure to meet any of the above requirements will lead to denial of transportation by Southwest Airlines.
  10. The guest traveling with an ESA will not be allowed to sit in an emergency exit seat.
  11. The emotional support animal should not occupy an aircraft seat or a tray table.
  12. The ESA must not extend into the aircraft aisle or beyond the footprint of the customer’s seat.
  13. Southwest Airlines doesn't hold any responsibility for the well-being and health of the pet. The passenger must make arrangements for the same.

Southwest Airlines Pet Restrictions

So far, we have understood the basic traveling requirement that every ESA owner must keep in mind while planning their next flight. However, it is also vital to note the restrictions policies of each airline to get a better understanding of how things will work for you and your pet when you’re on board. To begin with, Southwest Airlines accepts pet-bookings on a first-come basis. If the airline meets its capacity, you are most likely to be turned down for the booking. In some exceptional cases, there are certain changes that an airline makes in order to meet the requirements of the passengers. These include allowing six pets per flight, or less, and sometimes even more if the availability allows.

In addition to this, you have to check-in your pet at the ticket counter and make sure that your ESA does not engage in disruptive activities. Examples of bad behavior include excessive barking, causing a ruckus, and attempts to break the carrier. If the same occurs, you may be immediately denied the right to travel. So, make sure that your emotional support animal is well-behaved and trained enough to travel inside the carrier.

Another restriction parameter of the policy states that pets are not allowed as checked baggage. In other words, the airline will only allow you to travel with pets as long as you place them in the carrier. More vitality, Southwest airlines also requires an ESA owner to vaccinate the cat or dog weeks before the boarding time. This means that your cat or dog must be at least eight weeks old for travel. So, go to your veterinarian and get your dog or cat checked up. The veterinary will write you a health certificate and determine whether they are fit for travel or not. If they pass the health round, you and your pet can travel to another state, but don’t forget to carry your health certificate and other vaccination documents in order to make the most of your travel time.



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