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Southwest Airlines Introduces New Pet Policy, Other Changes

Not applicable

 I don’t think you will be surprised to hear me say that we are in the midst of one of the most challenging times in aviation history.  In fact, it’s my opinion that this decade has been the most difficult in our industry’s 100-year history, and this year is arguably the most difficult we’ve seen this decade.  While Southwest Airlines is prepared for these tough times, we are certainly not immune to the effects of a deep recession in this economic environment.  The good news is that the 35,000-plus Employees of Southwest Airlines (the most talented in the world, by the way), are up to the challenge, and we’re facing these turbulent times head-on. 

 Today, we are announcing one new program and a few other changes that are designed to enhance the service we provide our Customers, and at the same time, create opportunities for incremental revenue growth.  These new programs and processes are just the starting point with additional initiatives planned for later this year.  As many of you know, we are very proud of the fact that at Southwest Airlines, we don’t surprise our Customers with fees--unlike our competitors.  We remain committed to maintaining our famous low fare brand.  We truly believe in setting the right Customer expectation and not charging for those amenities that a Customer would “expect” to get for free.  That being said, it is our fiscal responsibility to our Employees, our Customers, and our Shareholders to maximize our existing and potential revenue opportunities.       

 We are very pleased to welcome pets onboard our aircraft for the very first time as part of a new program called P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Welcome on Southwest).  We will begin allowing our Customers to bring along a limited number of small cats and dogs in the aircraft cabin for a low pet fare of $75 each way.  Our Employees and our Customers have told us for years that this is something that they want from Southwest, and our enhanced boarding allows us to offer this new service without impacting the efficiency of our operation.  Customers can begin purchasing tickets for their pets on June 1, 2009, for travel beginning June 17, 2009.

 Additionally, we will soon implement a $25 service charge each way for Customers who travel on Southwest Airlines as an Unaccompanied Minor (UM -- Customers from the age of five through 11 traveling without an adult), in addition to the fare paid for the child or a Rapid Rewards Award ticket.  Internally, this has been a topic of conversation and debate for years at Southwest Airlines.  Up to this point, we’ve been fortunate enough to offer this added service without a charge—even though we carry increasing numbers of Unaccompanied Minors each year—but we simply cannot afford to continue down this same path.  There is a substantive cost associated with the extra care needed to safely transport unaccompanied children, including Employee time and administrative work, and these costs can not be ignored any longer, not in today’s economic environment. The Unaccompanied Minor service charge will apply to tickets purchased June 1, 2009, and later, for travel beginning June 17, 2009.  Unaccompanied Minors currently represent less than one percent of our Customers. 

Lastly, we are increasing the charge to check a third bag and heavy bags onboard our aircraft.  Don’t worry, you can still check two pieces of luggage for free on Southwest Airlines-- that has not changed--but beginning June 17, Southwest will increase the amount currently charged to check overweight bags weighing 51 to 70 pounds and excess luggage from $25 per bag to $50 per bag.  All other checked baggage policies and charges remain the same.  Our baggage policy is still far and away the most generous in the industry, and this change will impact approximately one percent of our Customers.  As an example, a family of four (including two small children over the age of two) may check two sets of golf clubs, two strollers, two car seats, and four pieces of luggage (under 50 pounds each) all for free on Southwest Airlines.  In addition to the incremental revenue this change will generate, we also anticipate seeing a reduction in the total number of checked bags we handle, allowing us to transport everyone’s luggage more efficiently. 

We are proud to introduce the new P.A.W.S. service.  We believe this new service, and the changes to our existing policies, will generate incremental revenue for the airline; how much revenue is yet to be determined, but we anticipate a modest annual benefit in the tens of millions of dollars.  We will continue to actively pursue additional revenue generating initiatives in both the near-term and long-term, while keeping a keen eye on our low fare brand and costs; all with the best interest of our Employees and our Customers in mind. 

Again, we are well-prepared and poised to survive these rough economic times and emerge an even better airline.  It’s not going to be easy, but I could not have hand-picked a more courageous and capable group of People than the Employees of Southwest Airlines to see us through.   
 

 

 

 


 

274 Comments
Not applicable
I think having pets on board is a horrible and intrusive situation, one of many that have been added to flying. We have to take off our shoes, leave things at home, listen to bad noisy children on board and now this. I will be searching ( hopefully) for another airline that does not allow them on the plane.
Not applicable
Pets will not run wild in the isles. I wish I could say the same for children. A pet will not turn around in its seat and ask you 200 questions during your flight. Nor will they kick the back of your seat... or reach over and grab your hair... A pet will not leave boogers on the armrest. So, a pet will be less noisy and less of a distraction to business travelers than many children are. Worried about getting contaminated by motion sickness? You should worry about the adult or child near you, not the animal on the floor. Pets who travel with their owners are well taken care of and may smell a lot better than the person sitting next to you...especially if you are seated near a diapered child. Speaking of diapers. I am in much more fearful of leaking or dirty diapers than anything a pet in a carrier could do. A pet will almost never go in it's carrier, ( and if it did, it is contained.) but I have seen way too many improperly handled diapers and unwashed hands. ( I have even seen people changing a diaper while in their airline seat!) Out of diaper kids can have accidents in the seat! Pets don't drown themselves with cheap perfume or aftershave. ( Really people, watch the cologne.) You are more likely go catch something from a person, than from a pet. You are more likely to get fleas from a person who spends times in the woods...or a person with a " a dog is a backyard decoration" mentality than from an actual dog on the plane. People to pay to fly with their pets are the type of people who take extreme care of their pets. Have you ever noticed that more 5 star hotels allow pets than 1 star hotels? BTW- I think most pets would do better if they were allowed off of the floor. I think a pet should be allowed to sit in an owners lap or purchase a seat IF: *The pet is sitting between two accompanying flyer's. Max two small pets per seat. * The pet is contained in a waterproof travel pet seat or other device or covering such as to protect the seat and not allow the pet to reach beyond the seat. or Just allow the carrier to be place on the seat on top of a waterproof blanket. ( not that the blanket would be necessary in any way...it is just to keep the phobic happy.) I would not even mind if this was only offered on select flights each day. Or, maybe start with the top travel destinations for family vacations?
Not applicable
It's amazing that the airline industry will value dogs over people. People with pet dander allergies and asthma should not be subject to such discomfort during flights. For those who feel popping a pill that damages your liver, dehydrates you, excites, or sedates etc., is not a solution to this issue. Telling someone to take medication that otherwise would not be necessary to take to fly is an infringement. People who feel otherwise, have no compassion for their fellow human and side more with animal rights vs. human rights. Not all people can avoid allergy and asthma systems by popping pills and using steroid inhalers that also damage our bodies in other ways. Medications do not always relieve all symptoms, and it's extremely painful to a passenger who has a slight bit of congestion due to the cabin pressure it feels like their brain is going to explode. When landing, allergy sufferers under go severe head pain when nasals and ears are congested. It's ridiculous to wave the rights of humans and give it to the dogs/cats etc. It's not like pets can't fly, people have placed them in pet carriers for decades and they would be placed outside of passenger cabin. Airlines should reverse the pet regulations to ensure pets continue to travel outside of the passenger cabin. It would make flights more practical for their human passengers. Additionally, the airlines are reducing profits or putting kennels and pet sitters out of work and disregarding public health for their own gain.
Not applicable
Can i bring a small bunny in a carrier?
Not applicable
Hi Anon-we don't accept bunnies in a carrier, just cats and small dogs are accepted in an approved carrier as part of our new P.A.W.S. policy. Laurel
Not applicable
I was shocked when I flew this weekend on a SW flight with a poodle and a cat in the cabin. SWA needs to rethink this, big time. I have pet dander allergies and I had no choice (non-refundable airfare) to continue on my flight. It's like peanut allergies. I have been on flights where peanuts could not be served yet I am exposed to pets? I expect this will change as soon as someone has an severe (anaphalaxis) reaction at 30K feet. What then? Better have an epi pen and a trach tube on board.
Not applicable
So... it's been a year since this policy has been implemented and yet all of the complaints I've seen - "Just you wait for the major allergy reaction!" have yet to surface. I think it is high time for the complainers to be quiet. It has been much ado about nothing for them. I, for one, am interested in flying with our dog, so thanks SW for the PAWS program!
Not applicable
Animals should be in the cargo hold of the aircraft where racehorses, pigs and other animals are required to travel not in the cabin with humans. Cats and dogs all have fleas and these fleas lay eggs in the cabin and then get onto the passenger's clothing and into their hand luggage which they then take to hotels and start flea infestations. Clearly Southwest is just after profit with its PAWS program without any health considerations for the passengers and those who come in contact with the flea ridden passenger's luggage and clothing after they leave the flight "with fleas to spread". Southwest you should be doing better than this for your loyal passengers. Stop the PAWS program. PLEASE. I am itching and my bags were covered in fleas and eggs..
Not applicable
I am thrilled Southwest is allowing pets on flights. Most of us that would pay to fly our pet in the acbin with us value our beloved pets like children, and take great enough care of them to kepe them clean and healthy. This shows how humane and caring Southwest is, and has truly opened them up to a whole new market of people. I have been personally singing the praises of the airline to anyone I know with a pet, and all have claimed to want to use Southwest in the future due to this policy. Thank you for being so considerate. In reference to those who complain of allergies, maybe a special section of the plane could be designated for those bringin pets? Possibly near the back?
Not applicable
For the argument of pet allergies: I suffer from pet allergies and have 2 dogs which I am not allergic to. So I am happy to see the new changes. However I also have severe food allergies to nuts and have to sit through people eating them when distributed on flights. You can't make everyone happy when you try to accommodate the majority.
Not applicable
Though I generally think your P.A.W.S program is a great idea I still don't understand why it cannot be extended to pet rabbits. I am the owner of 2 lovely bunny rabbits and rabbits are the 3rd most popular household pet in the United States. They are small and make much less noise than a cat or a dog. I traveled with my bunny Tapsi on Delta once when they would still allow rabbits in the cabin. She remained in the carrier all the way. I am currently supporting Continental for my travel as the only airlines accepting rabbits and so are many other rabbit owners. I wished airlines would rethink their pet policies since a rabbit in the cabin is honestly less obtrusive than a dog.
Not applicable
Gee, I have no pet allergies - Get on any airline and have allergies to perfume and cologne. Would those of you wearing it please not fly with my non allergic yorkie on Southwest? Get on any airplane and you are surrounded with this foul cheap crap that people must bathe in before they board. Cats/or dogs stay under the seat -you sit two feet from me. Take your allergy drugs, take a nap and get over it. Thanks Southwest for allowing Emmy and I to fly with you. Mary
Not applicable
I am amazed at the ignorant comments that have been posted on this site. For those who claim to have such severe allergies to pets and there hair dont you think that most people with a "shedding" dog have that hair on them. The dogs and cats have to stay in there cages, much more than I can say for the screaming, yelling, crying, fit pitching little brats that I see so many of you bring on planes. At least I can put mussle on my dog, much more than I can say for your out of control children that run around like little monsters. When you start kenneling your kids and get them under control then tell me about my dogs that by the way dont bark, or shed. And for the record I dont dislike children just dont thing I should have to listen to, or be interupted by those who chose to have them.
Not applicable
You board your passengers like cattle anyways, so I guess you might as well throw some cats and dogs in the mix.
Not applicable
Really enjoyed bringing my dog on flight. After 46 years of listening to kids crying, smelly/loud people, and people overlapping into my seat it was a real pleasure to see my dog was a better traveler then some humans out there! WE ALL make compromises! :) Thank You Southwest!
Not applicable
so take some allergy medicine and quit complaining!
Not applicable
This was a stupid decision. There should be one airline smart enough to keep animals off.
Not applicable
I am disappointed with your new pets onboard policy. I have two children with severe cat callergies. ( please withhold ID if printing letter)
New Arrival

I am a leisure flyer and look forward to getting away from all the barking dogs and wandering cats that set off the barking dogs on our street.  I don't have allergies to dogs or cats, but my husband does and he doesn't want to spend a 4 hour flight with itching eyes and running nose for a NON-SERVICE pet.  Passengers shouldn't have to medicate unnecessarily, not to mention the enourmous cost of an epi-pen these days.  For me, I just don't want to see dogs on my flights, simple as that.  They cause me anxiety despite taking medication for that.  And the majority of dog owners are selfish and inconsiderate and will not follow the strict rules.  HUMANS FIRST!

New Arrival

To all those who have pet allergies, how do you know that the people sitting beside you on a flight, have not just petted and held their cat or dog, prior to boarding the plane, as I do. If you are so highly allergic to a cat or dog, just being in close proximity to one of these people with animal dander on their clothing, would set your allergy in motion. This is a medical fact, as my allergist explained it to me. Therefor you should always take your allergy medicine before traveling, and have your inhaler accessible in pocket or purse at all times. We actually had an issue with a flight attendant who went ballistic over my husband's emotional support cat, staying if she so much as tougher my husband's credit card for food payment, she would have to go and give herself an injection!! That was on Alaska Airlines, which we fly mostly, because of their great animal travel policy. Someone who is that allergic, should not be working in that capacity where they come in contact with pet owners all the time. Sometimes it that kind of situation, it is not allergy related at all, just someone who does not like cats and dogs.

New Arrival

If my dog is considered a carry on, why do I have to pay $75?  SWA does not charge for carry on, YET!


@gkelly1 wrote:

 I don’t think you will be surprised to hear me say that we are in the midst of one of the most challenging times in aviation history.  In fact, it’s my opinion that this decade has been the most difficult in our industry’s 100-year history, and this year is arguably the most difficult we’ve seen this decade.  While Southwest Airlines is prepared for these tough times, we are certainly not immune to the effects of a deep recession in this economic environment.  The good news is that the 35,000-plus Employees of Southwest Airlines (the most talented in the world, by the way), are up to the challenge, and we’re facing these turbulent times head-on. 

 Today, we are announcing one new program and a few other changes that are designed to enhance the service we provide our Customers, and at the same time, create opportunities for incremental revenue growth.  These new programs and processes are just the starting point with additional initiatives planned for later this year.  As many of you know, we are very proud of the fact that at Southwest Airlines, we don’t surprise our Customers with fees--unlike our competitors.  We remain committed to maintaining our famous low fare brand.  We truly believe in setting the right Customer expectation and not charging for those amenities that a Customer would “expect” to get for free.  That being said, it is our fiscal responsibility to our Employees, our Customers, and our Shareholders to maximize our existing and potential revenue opportunities.       

 We are very pleased to welcome pets onboard our aircraft for the very first time as part of a new program called P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Welcome on Southwest).  We will begin allowing our Customers to bring along a limited number of small cats and dogs in the aircraft cabin for a low pet fare of $75 each way.  Our Employees and our Customers have told us for years that this is something that they want from Southwest, and our enhanced boarding allows us to offer this new service without impacting the efficiency of our operation.  Customers can begin purchasing tickets for their pets on June 1, 2009, for travel beginning June 17, 2009.

 Additionally, we will soon implement a $25 service charge each way for Customers who travel on Southwest Airlines as an Unaccompanied Minor (UM -- Customers from the age of five through 11 traveling without an adult), in addition to the fare paid for the child or a Rapid Rewards Award ticket.  Internally, this has been a topic of conversation and debate for years at Southwest Airlines.  Up to this point, we’ve been fortunate enough to offer this added service without a charge—even though we carry increasing numbers of Unaccompanied Minors each year—but we simply cannot afford to continue down this same path.  There is a substantive cost associated with the extra care needed to safely transport unaccompanied children, including Employee time and administrative work, and these costs can not be ignored any longer, not in today’s economic environment. The Unaccompanied Minor service charge will apply to tickets purchased June 1, 2009, and later, for travel beginning June 17, 2009.  Unaccompanied Minors currently represent less than one percent of our Customers. 

Lastly, we are increasing the charge to check a third bag and heavy bags onboard our aircraft.  Don’t worry, you can still check two pieces of luggage for free on Southwest Airlines-- that has not changed--but beginning June 17, Southwest will increase the amount currently charged to check overweight bags weighing 51 to 70 pounds and excess luggage from $25 per bag to $50 per bag.  All other checked baggage policies and charges remain the same.  Our baggage policy is still far and away the most generous in the industry, and this change will impact approximately one percent of our Customers.  As an example, a family of four (including two small children over the age of two) may check two sets of golf clubs, two strollers, two car seats, and four pieces of luggage (under 50 pounds each) all for free on Southwest Airlines.  In addition to the incremental revenue this change will generate, we also anticipate seeing a reduction in the total number of checked bags we handle, allowing us to transport everyone’s luggage more efficiently. 

We are proud to introduce the new P.A.W.S. service.  We believe this new service, and the changes to our existing policies, will generate incremental revenue for the airline; how much revenue is yet to be determined, but we anticipate a modest annual benefit in the tens of millions of dollars.  We will continue to actively pursue additional revenue generating initiatives in both the near-term and long-term, while keeping a keen eye on our low fare brand and costs; all with the best interest of our Employees and our Customers in mind. 

Again, we are well-prepared and poised to survive these rough economic times and emerge an even better airline.  It’s not going to be easy, but I could not have hand-picked a more courageous and capable group of People than the Employees of Southwest Airlines to see us through.   
 

 

 

 


 


 

New Arrival

This is really, really, really aweful. I get sick everytime there is a dog or cat in the cabin and that seems to be almost every time I fly these days. Maybe you could have allergy free flights like hotels have allergy free rooms. I would change my flight plans as necessary to take these flights. It is a huge problem. Please, please, please consider those of us who are allergic to cats and dogs. PLEASE!

New Arrival

in reviewing this post I wanted to inquire what steps Southwest is taking to prevent animals from biting other paassengers? Are dogs being permitted on flights with no muzzles or not being on the flight in a carrier?

New Arrival

This is just pure insanity.  Enough with the comfort animals.  Many of us have allergies and there is NO consideration for this.  I have a friend who for some reason is petrified of animals.  I don't pretend to understand why but this is getting out of control.  Put the animals in the cargo hold where they belong.  I am in the terminal right now and you have two dogs barking up a storm.  REALLY.  The plane has turned into a friggin zoo.  We are here to travel and fly, not have someone's animals be part of the flying experience.  Am I the only one who feels this way or is everyone afraid to say what we all know is true.