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Southwest Airlines to revise its service animal policy

Southwest Airlines will change its policies regarding emotional support and service animals in an effort to provide clearer guidance to customers. | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines will change its policies regarding emotional support and service animals in an effort to provide clearer guidance to customers, according to a press release.

“We welcome emotional support and trained service animals that provide needed assistance to our Customers,” said Steve Goldberg, Senior Vice President of Operations and Hospitality in a press release. “However, we want to make sure our guidelines are clear and easy to understand while providing Customers and Employees a comfortable and safe experience.”

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs):

  • ESAs will be limited to only dogs and cats
  • ESAs will be limited to one per Customer
  • ESAs must remain in a carrier or be on a leash at all times

In terms of the safety for both Southwest’s customers and employees, all emotional support and service animals are to be trained to behave in a public setting and must be under the control of the handler at all times. Southwest reserves the right deny boarding privileges to any animal that engages in disruptive behavior.

“The ultimate goal with these changes is to ensure Customers traveling with service animals know what to expect when choosing Southwest,” said Goldberg. “Southwest will continue working with advocacy groups, Employees, Customers, and the DOT to ensure we offer supportive service animal guidelines.”