Southwest Airlines bans emotional support animals

Jan 25, 2021

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Southwest Airlines followed several other U.S. airlines on Monday by banning travelers from flying with emotional support animals.

This comes after a final rule from the Department of Transportation last month that affirmed carriers no longer have to recognize emotional support animals as service animals.

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Southwest, similar to other carriers that passed similar rules, said it would only allow trained service dogs to assist a qualified traveler with physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Additionally, the airline said only dogs would be accepted as service animals. Beginning March 1, emotional support cats, dogs, hamstersminiature ponies and other animals will no longer be allowed on Southwest flights. The airline said that customers who have emotional support animals booked on flights after Feb. 28, 2021, should contact Southwest for more information and assistance.

“We applaud the Department of Transportation’s recent ruling that allows us to make these important changes to address numerous concerns raised by the public and airline employees regarding the transport of untrained animals in the cabins of aircraft,” said Steve Goldberg, a senior vice president at the airline.

“Southwest Airlines continues to support the ability of qualified individuals with a disability to bring trained service dogs for travel and remains committed to providing a positive and accessible travel experience for all of our customers with disabilities.”

Earlier this month, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines also banned most emotional support animals from the cabin. Alaska Airlines became the first carrier to adopt the updated DOT guidance in December.

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