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Southwest Airlines Becomes the Latest Carrier to Overhaul Its Pet Policy

August 17, 2018

People who travel with their pets, including those with service or emotional support animals, have faced a year of changes.

Southwest Airlines is the most recent air carrier to announce an overhaul to its pet policy, following in the footsteps of Delta and United, both of whom made similar announcements earlier this year.

Like Delta and United, the changes to Southwest’s pet policy are mainly focused on service and emotional support animals. According to the airline’s website, the changes will take effect on September 17 of this year.

“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 statement about the changes. “However, we want to make sure our guidelines are clear and easy to understand while providing customers and employees a comfortable and safe experience.”

Before deciding on the pet policy changes, Southwest staff consulted with customers, employees and advocacy groups for those with disabilities. The changes they arrived on mainly include limitations on emotional support animals.

Effective September 17, only one emotional support animal per customer will be allowed on Southwest flights. This animal much be a cat or dog and must remain in a carrier under the seat in front of the owner or on a leash held by the owner from boarding to deplaning. Customers traveling with emotional support animals will still need to present a complete, current letter from a medical doctor or licensed mental health professional on the day of departure.

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