Southwest Airlines Cracking Down on Emotional Support Animal Policy

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Southwest Airlines plans to crack down on their emotional support animal policy for its passengers starting in September. The airline will become more restrictive on the type of pets that will be considered an emotional support animal and now will include only cats and dogs.

It appears Southwest is following in Delta’s footsteps, as Delta Cracks Down On Fake Emotional Support Animals.

Southwest Airlines provided the following on their new policy:

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
ESA owners will still need to present a complete, current letter (not more than one year old) from a doctor or licensed mental health professional on the day of departure. Beginning September 17, ESAs:

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

Trained Service Animals
In alignment with recent Department of Transportation (DOT) guidance, Southwest Airlines will only accept the most common service animals—dogs, cats, and miniature horses. Customers may not travel with an unusual or exotic animal acting as a trained service animal. As is the case today, the Customer with the disability must be able to provide the credible verbal assurance that the animal is a trained service animal.

With these changes, Southwest Airlines will only allow a dog or cat as an emotional support animal onboard, however miniature horses will still be accepted as trained service animals or psychiatric service animals for passengers.

What are your thoughts on Southwest’s new emotional support animal policy? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Hat Tip: CNN Money

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  1. Emotional Support animals are taking advantage of the true reason of Service Animals. Anyone can go to a doctor and tell them their PET makes them feel better and they automatically become a emotional support animal with little or no training of and kind and they are given a note by usually their regular doctors so that they can take their PET wherever they go. I have no problem with a TRAINED SERVICE DOG going FREE with their owners I think an emotional support animal should be charged and it would eliminate people taking advantage of taking their PETS on flights for FREE.

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