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Southwest Airlines Introduces New Pet Policy, Other Changes

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 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
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"Pet Free Flights"...REALLY give me a break!!!! Personal Responsibility.....let me repeat Personal Responsibility....I don't think the majority of people know what that means. For those of you who don't look it up. And YES Rebecca Southwest has always allowed service animals on their aircraft.....we call it Federal Law. And lets be clear....ALL of the other major carriers have for quite sometime allowed pets in their cabins. So come on people for those of us who are allergic...and yes I am one of them take responsibility for yourself and travel with your medication if in fact you are that allergic to pets. So for those of you who leave Southwest Airlines for this new policy...say hello to baggage charges on other carriers, change fees, premium seat fees, assigned seat fees, and god knows what other fees you will pay. And YES when your board that flight on American Airlines or Delta or who ever you fly, say hello to Fido next to you, because YES they all allow pets in their cabins as well.
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>>>AND GIVEN MY EXPERIENCE AS A FLIGHT ATTENDANCE FOR A MAJOR LEGACY CARRIER, THAT WILL BE VERY, VERY SOON Your post might have had more credibility if that "major legacy carrier" had ensured that you knew how to spell the name of your very own position.. 😉 Geez.... Can somebody turn the "troll filter" on please...
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As a loyal SWA customer with a husband allergic to dogs, I am very disappointed. My husband will be miserable within 30 minutes. He has problems just being near someone who has dogs. Once all that dander gets into the air, it is not going to matter that there are only 5 pets on board. Very disappointed....
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I am very concerned about the animals being allowed to fly. What about those of us that have allergies to cats and dogs? No one cares about perfume allergies, and those of us have to deal with it. Now your going to make us suffer with cat dander and dog stuff. And what happens when the animal decides to leave "presents" in their carrier? What about the smell, and health hazard with that? I would rather you (SWA) raise my flight ticket 5 or 10 dollars and keep those nasty animals OFF the plane. Cat and dog smell and allergies are worse that 2nd hand smoke! Keep them OFF the plane! Joe
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I was thrilled to find that Southwest was opening a hub in my area, but now I'll have to stick with Northwest. I'm severely allergic to cats and if one was aboard, I would have a miserable flight. Even though I like your claims of service and the fares appear reasonable, this new policy is far from reasonable. Are you prepared for litigation if a passenger suffers ill health from exposure to animals to which he/she may be allergic? Please rethink this policy.
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Please consult with your medical director to be sure that there will be plenty of epi-pens,nebulizers,steriods,IV fluids,and ET tubes onboard to accommodate the rise in allergic and anaphylactic reactions. As a physician,dealing with inflight medical issues is difficult with limited supplies on aircraft. As an allergy patient, I will no longer be using Southwest. Thank you for your previous service.
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People with these severe allergies and complaints should definitely not fly SWA - this will leave so much more room for people who enjoy travelling, are active, exciting, interesting and do not need to live in an allergen-free bubble. Travelling is not for the faint of heart - or body - even if it is just an hour flight. People with these kinds of issues should definitely think about driving - renting an RV perhaps, so they can completely control their environment and "environmental illness and sensitivity". It will be nice to have the extra room aboard SWA for me and my pet.
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mneditor, We would hate to lose your business, You may not be aware but both Delta and Northwest allow pets in the cabin. If you haven't had porblems on your flights with them, there is no reason to think our flights will be any different.
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More than 50% of all households in the United States own cats and dogs. Unfortunately, cat allergies are one of the common forms of allergies. Statistics have shown that over 10 million people in the U.S. alone have allergic reactions to cats. I personally have Cat allergies. Allergy to peanuts affects 1.3% of the general population - yet they have Peanut free flights. I don't understand what the problem is. This is not a issue of wether a person likes dogs or cats, it's that we are allergic to them - I personal have my lungs close up. I avoid being around cats - how can you justify Peanut free fligths but not Cat free flights. No such thing as a Service Cat to the disabled. 10 million people face a possible anaphylactic shock if they board a plane with out knowledge of the possiblity of a Cat will be abroad. Just makes no sense, (cent's yes). Southwest will not be seeing my money - just can't take the chance.
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Honestly people!! The Air Carrier Access Act has mandated that SWA carry assistive animals for years. There are all types of dogs that travel now. I travel alot and have never seen a medical emergency on a plane carrying an assistive animal. What do you people do when someone brings their assistive animal to a restaurant where you are? Do you leave? What about monkeys? They travel too as assistive animals! I agree with anonymous...I have had more bad flights from crying babies or kids kicking my seat. (that is any airline) Good for you SWA!!
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To "Cody in AMA"...I certainly hope you don't WORK for SW..It is pathetic that a simple typo distracted you to such an extent that you failed to address ANY issues in my post...like exit row/bulkhead/window seating, for example. I only mentioned my work as a flight attendant because I wanted readers to understand that I have seen and dealt with these issues on a daily basis. Why don't you forgive the typo, and get on with the issues? I loved suggesting SW...the ONLY no-pets airline, to friends with allergies and to those who don't live near one of my own airline's hubs. My husband's allergist suggested it to folks, too. It's really too bad that we can't recommend SW anymore, and that SW has effectively grounded more than a tiny fraction of folks who have a very real medical condition. Judge simply from the number of posts here. Figure that each one represents thousands of folks. Charge $75, or $175, per pet, and ONE medical emergency will eat ALL the revenue...in delays, landing fees, gimmees to inconvenienced passengers, settlements and suits, biohazard cleanup costs, stocking first-aid kits, etc., etc., etc,
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Another anonymous poster wrote this in support of PAWS: Travelling is not for the faint of heart - or body - even if it is just an hour flight. People with these kinds of issues should definitely think about driving - renting an RV perhaps, so they can completely control their environment and "environmental illness and sensitivity". It could just as easily be said that people with the kind of emotional dependence on their pets should definitely think about driving - renting an RV perhaps, so they can completely control their environment and have their pet with them everywhere they go.
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I cannot believe some of these comments. I.E. "Dogs being let out of there carriers, and what if it bit someone!!" What a bunch of trash. DOGS aren't allowed out of the carrier! DUHHH "What about my allergies?" 1.5% of the human population are allergic to dogs...Cats, slightly more. Cry me a river allergy people. The P.A.W.S. is a GREAT idea, and it's well over due. More and more people want to travel with there pet, and it has increased ten fold. The airlines need the added revenue!! SW doesn't charge for bags, and are doing thousands of customers like me a big favor by finally allowing pets. I think most of these posters complaiuin because they don't like cats or dogs. Believe it or not PETS are better passengers than any human, because they don't complain like you do. So, quit your whining, and drive!
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People with allergies are NOT "active, exciting, interesting and (do not need) to live in an allergen-free bubble". All I can say is "Ignorant" - People with Allergies like asthma from Cats or Dogs don't have "kinds of issues" they didn't choose to have allergies. If we could "control" our immune systems and how they reacts to the irritants - that would be ideal. Since no human can do that - we stay away from those things that effect our immune systems. I guess this poster is not allergic to any food or substance on the face of the earth and he is so blessed. But say he was allergic to lets say..."cats" he would probably like to breathe and as such would stay away from a Cat. Just a guess but I think I am right. Since being around Cats and Dogs is not a necessary part of life I don't think that we have to be place in a tube with the animal. If you have Cats or Dogs maybe Humans could come first in the chain of consideration and accomodation. Maybe with Animals (other than Service animals) can be the ones to travel in the RV as the poster suggested. I know most people aren't Ignorant about allergies or most simple medical concepts. like if you have someone sneeze near you - you could get catch a cold - but people with colds might just be less active, less exciting, less interesting and need to live in an allergen-free bubble, so maybe they shouldn't fly too.
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Just watched the YouTube video. Do you realize that you demonstrated a passenger "correctly" storing her pet carrier in an AISLE seat? Let me ask you....Say you are next to the window with your child in the middle seat and the pet owner, as you demonstrated, on the aisle with her precious pet in the carrier under the seat in front of her. Let's say there is an emergency, like the one you had recently in Houston. Do you really think the pet owner is going to evacuate the plane and follow directions to not take anything with her? No, she is going to take her dog. And my child and I are going to be stuck, waiting for her to grab this carrier, while the plane catches fire? I DON'T THINK SO. If you are going to allow pets in carriers, they'd better be in window seats. That way, when the worst happens, the pet owner is slowing down no one but themself.
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Yea for Southwest! THANK YOU!! I've been fly with cats for the past 20 years and have not been able to give very much of my considerable flight business to Southwest specifically because of their past no-pet policy. I fly between 50-80,000 miles a year on United and Alaska and am either flying for business OR for my hobby - cat shows. Rest assured, if I travel with my cat on Southwest, it will have been freshly bathed, will stay INSIDE its carrier the entire time, will most likely not utter so much as a meow and seatmates will not even notice that my carry-on is a Shepa bag with a kitty inside. I respect passengers with allergies; I have a slight allergy to cats too. I can also assure you that I will be much more considerate, quiet and unremarkable with my kitty than most young children passenger who kick my seat constantly (and their parents do NOTHING to stop them). 🙂 I won't be like the business traveller who is overflowing his seat and elbowing me, determined to type on their laptop the entire flight. Grrr. Please give us a chance to show you that having pets on Southwest will be good for business and will help keep Southwest's fares low. Purrs to you all.
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I am not happy about this nor will my wife. She has severe allergies to both dogs and cats and I can't imagine her having an allergic reaction to a dog in the cabin. This is one of the worst decisions you've made. How can you be sure these pet owners will restrain their animals, or will dog fights break out when one dog who can't get along with another dog starts fighting? Dogs can only control themselves as well as their owners, and as we all know, about 1/2 or more of the dog owners are negligent and this will ultimately lead to a whole host of problems. Wake up.
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Yes! Thank you for allowing pets on board. Though we've never flown pets on board any aircraft, we have five dogs! It pains me greatly any time we hear dogs being stowed under the plane, in dark, cold, loud, isolated areas away from their owners. Allowing people to bring them on board will enable the animals to travel safely and calmly. As for the possible barking, do what works: exercise your dog before the flight. Exercise will drain your pets energy, calming them down and helping them relax. Heck, it'll do good for the owner, too! Safe travels!! Jay in LA
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Cody, In response to your comment that allergy sufferers like myself should have personal responsibility and bring allergy medications on board. #1--I ALWAYS carry allergy medications with me. #2--Once an allergic reaction starts and you take Benadryl, it does take a while for it to kick in (up to an hour)...and by the time it does, you are already feeling terrible or could be severely wheezing. So are you saying that I need to take Benadryl before every flight just in case someone brings a cat on board my flight? So I have to be the one that is too drowsy to drive when I get to my destination just because someone couldn't leave poor fluffy at home, kennel, or get a cat sitter? #3--One of the reasons we have chosen in the past to fly Southwest is because of the no pet (except for service animals---which is 99.9% of the time dogs) policy. Now it won't really matter what carrier we fly. Southwest will probably lose at least half of our business.....which...in the grand scheme of things isn't much.....but I'm sure we won't be alone. I just don't see how they think that the increased business they will get from this policy will even come close to outweighing the loss of business from customers with allergies. I'm just trying to figure out what happened to everyone on this earth that doesn't seem to care one bit about anyone else's health and well being but their own. I guess its just the selfish world we live in these days. I love animals.....but I would NEVER allow my pet to affect the health of another human being. Michelle
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I'm severely disappointed in the change of policy and am sad to announce that I will discontinue using Southwest Airlines once this policy is enacted. Before the policy was changed it was something that set Southwest apart from its competition and I encouraged my friends and patients to use them, especially if they have small children. This will sadly no longer be the case. I'm a physician with two small children and I am afraid my little Ella is severely allergic to cats. My wife and I will be driving from driving from San Francisco to Portland now.
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I applaud SW's new policy allowing pets-in-cabin, the last major airline to institute this! As one who ALWAYS travels with a cat when I fly--for both business and pleasure--I am surprised at the many posters who seem to believe that this pet policy will mean cats and dogs fouling the cabin air and making their trip miserable. Rarely when I fly does the adjacent passenger even realize I have a cat in the carrier that fits neatly under the seat in front of me, and this is true for most other travelers with pets that I know. Passengers traveling with pets consistently take great care in making the trip as easy for themselves, their pet, and their fellow passengers, because, just like the other passengers, we want to get to our destination with the least amount of hassle and annoyance. I have never flown Southwest because of its no-pet policy, and United and JetBlue have been where my money has gone--United to the tune of nearly being a million mile flyer and JetBlue a monthly trip to the West Coast. I am happy to now have another choice with Southwest and its many destinations! Lisa-Maria Padilla
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SWA, good on ya! There have been many many times i wanted to use your airlines while traveling with an animal because of your GREAT low fares, sadly then it wasn't to be. I'm glad you've come on line allowing other (non-service related) cats and dogs on board. To the naysayers, most of us that have flown with animals on the other airlines try to get on towards the back of the plane, not cause a fuss. If we can't immediately move back we try to as soon as we know there is an empty seat. We really do try to respect those that may have allergies and respect the airlines desire to keep the animals in their carriers. I'm also sure that SWA will have a limit on the number of animals that travel in the cabin, the other carriers do and if there more than the limit, the airlines has been helpful in making other arrangements. Don't jump off the deep end just yet ask around and see how well it does work SWA, thanks again!!
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>>>GK asked: >>>How can you be sure these pet owners will restrain their animals, or will dog fights break out when one dog who can't get along with another dog starts fighting? Dogs can only control themselves as well as their owners, and as we all know, about 1/2 or more of the dog owners are negligent and this will ultimately lead to a whole host of problems. It's really very simple. The rules are that the small dogs (not big ones) and cats have to stay in their carrier. If someone decides that the rules somehow don't apply to them and takes them out, the F/A tells them to put Fluffy back in the carrier ASAP. If the passenger declines to follow the F/A's instruction(s), the passenger has now interfered with a flight crew member (not complying) which violates federal regulations. Local law enforcement folks at the destination (or anywhere they might divert to while enroute) will be only too happy to greet them and explain the federal charges they're now facing.. The folks who are envisioning all these supposed herds of dogs and cats running amuck onboard the aircraft while inflight need to quit hyperventilating...
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P.A.W.S. is a GREAT idea! Thank you very much! I flew from Brussels, Belgium on Northwest Airlines to the Midwest with a kitten not long ago. It was about a 10 -11 hour flight, and there was "not one problem" with the kitten.. The passengers as well as the crew were all "terrific" !!! Everyone was concerned about the kitten's comfort. 🙂 Thank you again.
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YAY!!!!!!!! I can begin flying Southwest again now, so happy, and so is my pup!!!!!!!!!
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TO: Mr. Gary RE: Unaccompanied Minors surcharge Dear Mr. Kelly: I am a father. My son lives in California with his mother and is a frequent flyer on your airline as an unaccompanied minor. Your airline has been a godsend to my life. Living apart from my son is one of the hardest things I've had to endure. Now, I am being forced to accept a greater financial burden of $50 per trip through your new policy of a surcharge on unaccompanied minors. Both my son and I fly Southwest a lot. The main reason that I feel good about flying Southwest is because of your fair and straightforward fare policy. I'm afraid to say that I no longer have that “warm and fuzzy feeling” that set your airline apart from the others. I can understand surcharges on additional baggage, animals, and just about anything else. When it comes to unaccompanied minors you have us parents over barrel and are now pounding salt into the already open wound that is a parent living apart from his or her child. I strongly urge you to reconsider this surcharge as unaccompanied minors represent less than 1% of your customers. I believe that you stand to lose more by disappointing and penalizing your loyal customers. I am very disappointed that Southwest Airlines is going the way of all of the other non-customer service oriented air carriers. I suppose your clever commercials that chastised the other nickel and diming airlines will go the way of your customer service. I am saddened that the one airline that supposedly had a heart is proving that this was just lip service and not customer service. Respectfully, Bill Melendez former Southwest frequent flyer
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to all you people whining about allergies and people letting their pets run freely around the airplane, you're making things up. Every other major airline allows small cats and dogs on the airplane with a fee. I've personally flown with my dog quite a few times, not on southwest because i left this airline specifically due to their previous no dog policy, and no one knew we had a dog on board. he even whined a bit and due to the sound of the engines not a soul heard him other than me with my head by his crate. On one 4 hour flight the couple in front of us had severe allergies and didn't even notice the dog! When i walked past them in the terminal with the dog that's when they asked if i was on the plane and told me of the allergy issue. If you are saying you're going to leave southwest as a customer due to pets being allowed on board for a fee could you please tell me which airline will you fly? They all allow cats and dogs for a fee. Bravo Southwest pet owners are very happy and this is a great way to keep from having further financial strain in a tough financial enviornment and a tough industry. I will definitley return as a happy customer!
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The new policy to allow pets in cabin is one of the greatest news items I have received in a LONG time. I travel with Southwest every time I can. I love the airline and their "people". It is always a pleasant experience flying with SWA but when I need to be accompanied by my kitty I have had to purchase tickets from other airlines. I don't like to do that...now, I won't have to. Thanks, Southwest for recognizing a need and for accommodating the needs of those of us who fly with our pets.
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Thanks for implementing P.A.W.S.! I have to fly with my cat when I go on long trips, and it's been hard giving up Southwest service. I've already booked our first flight, and Gus gets his Southwest wings in September!
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I'm allergic to screaming children, under the age of two, who get to set on Mommy's lap and fly free. I am also allergic to those jerks who bring way-too-big carryons and take 10 minutes to try and stuff them in three peoples space. In the mean while, my show cat, who has traveled around the world under the seat, is sleeping quietly. As for those allergic to pets, I have yet to see a plane have to land because an animals is in an enclosed carrier under the seat. Oh, but thanks to the guy next to me that complained, we moved up to FIRST CLASS. Oh, I pay $75 for that cat, thank you.
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If you're allergic to anmals declare so to the ticket agent and they'll have to make the person with the pet take the next flight!
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If you're allergic to animals declare so to the ticket agent and they'll have to make the person with the pet take the next flight!
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i love your airline, but have avoided flying with you in the past because I could not bring my cat. My cat goes where I go and is a well behaved and well travelled cat. I am just SOOOOOOO happy you will be taking pets. THANK YOU!
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This is ridiculous and makes me sad at about how people can't read and just yell their opinions out with no context whatsoever. There have been multiple people saying how the animals can't come out of the carrier. And the thing about a giant Labrador sitting next to them, it has to be able to fit under your seat at all times, so obviously that's not possible. And it's been made clear that SWA is virtually the last carrier to allow pets in the cabin, when pretty much ALL other carriers have allowed them for years and years. So I've heard people saying they're switching to American and NWA, when they both allow them and have CLOTH SEATS. I think you should take into account that with all-leather seats as opposed to competitor's cloth seats...leather doesn't hold in the allergies like cloth does, so it can all be scrubbed pretty clean. SWA changes this and the whole world complains and complains, when significant thought has been put into this and how each and every passenger MAY be affected by this. Those who say you will switch airlines, I highly doubt that will happen. SWA already makes accommodations to those with peanut allergies, so you know they're going to be accommodating for this as well. And I agree with the unaccompanied child thing too. I don't think it is SWA responsibility for the care of your child...they are an airline, not a daycare provider. The fact that they will make sure that your child is given better care and will be personally handed over to the correct person at the destination is priceless...it is the safety of YOUR child you are talking about here.
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I have severe animal allergies, especially to cats. Animal hair is not the real problem, except where it gets all over your clothes and contains pet saliva, dust, mold, and waste--it is the dander that is floating in the air that you can't see and sticks to everything. It remains around for a long time. Yes, other airlines allow pets and I have avoided them at all costs. But occasionally, I have had to fly on other airlines. And, I have had to be moved to another seat as far away as possible in order to breathe, and I have still gone into an asthma attack, scaring (not intentionally) the crew and passengers. I have been met at the gate by medical personnel. Animals smell (sorry folks--I don't care how much you bathe your pets, they still smell). And listening to a dog howl because a baby is crying, or having to smell an "accident," well... MY QUESTIONS: 1. Are F/A's going to go through the cabin after each flight cleaning the seats of people who flew with a pet? (Animal dander is sticky.) 2. Will filters on the plane be replaced so that the dander is not recirculated over and over? 3. Will new passengers on a flight be told which seat someone with a pet sat in on the previous leg so they can find another seat? And will such a disclosure be done discreetly so as to not make the allergic person feel like the guilty one? Could allergic travelers be flagged in the system so that precautions can be taken in a respectful manner? 4. Does the airline have plans to limit the number of pets per flight? Will passengers be able to get that info so that we know whether a flight might cause an emergency room visit or subsequent medical problems? (Exposure to animals for me can also create a reaction up to 12 hours later. Even being in a room where a cat was causes me to have an asthma attack. ) There is no worse feeling (other than watching blood spurt from an artery) than being unable to breathe, watching your extremities turn blue. 5. Will the flight attendants relocate pax to other seats, knowing full well, that most people will not want to move? (And, no, don't put me in a middle seat when I had an aisle seat.) And to the person who said, be prepared for lots of fees on the other airlines, well, one emergency room visit for an asthma attack costs $600+ dollars in my city (a far cry from the $25 bag fee at another airline). Unfortunately, the attitude I see is one of insensitivity to people with animal allergies. And those who do not have them HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA of the health dangers that exist for people with animal allergies. (They don't "see" the physical problem, so don't believe it exists.) Each day 11 people die from asthma (65% of deaths are women), and asthma is a contributing factor in nearly 7000 deaths a year. Yes, I agree with Gary Kelly, these are hard times--but for some different reasons as well. I applaud SWA's efforts to hold down costs and not charge for at least the first bag. (I feel sorry for the elderly who must check bags. I have rheumatoid arthritis and have to check my bag.) But, it is also getting harder and harder for travelers to travel without having to put up with more and more discomforts, whether in personal comfort on the plane (sandwiched between two obese people) or the logistics of just making a reservation (ok--it is very easy to do that with SWA) and getting from point A to point B, and the dollar gouging for bags (sort of like buying a car--soon we will have to buy the tires for the car as they won't come with them!). I am all for a company's earning a profit--they have to to stay in business. But when I see executives making obscene salaries while tacking on fee after fee (SWA--thank God you don't, but I can't help think that the pet policy has been instituted to improve the bottom line at a faster rate), I can't help wondering whether CEOs are now graduating in the bottom half of their MBA classes, as some of the management policies coming out of them would indicate a disconnect with common sense. Notwithstanding cargo-only carriers, if it were not for passengers, the airlines would not be in business. From my perspective, I question how much SWA thought this through. Can't help think that anyone involved in the decision had animal allergies. I just hope SWA reconsiders the pet policy, and at least lets passengers with allergies know when a flight has pets on board, how many, and what type. I am saddened that I will probably have to find alternate transportation. But my health is my #1 priority.
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I was so happy to see my favorite airline now takes pets...then I read a bunch of comments here. My question..have any of these folks with "severe" pet allergies ever heard of Claritin? It is over the counter! I have flown across the US multiple times with my cat...only once was their ever a complaint. That was from someone who forgot their Claritin. I love my cat despite being allergic to him. But, everyday I take allergy medicine. I suggest all the whining people out there do the same (-:
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SWA has been my favorite airline, but with the new PAWS policy, I will not be flying them in the future. Earlier posts from some pet lovers seem to think allergies are not a big deal and point out service animals have been allowed for years. To my knowledge, there is no such thing as a CAT service pet. Most people with pet allergies list cats as the main problem. Until you have had an attack from the dander and experienced the rush to the emergency room and urgency to try to breathe, you may feel differently about airline pet exposure. I would hope SWA at least notifies all passengers of pets aboard and has back of the plane seating restrictions on pet carrying customers. I found their website interesting as it is vague about the number of pets allowed on board. The interesting sentence give them the right to have MORE than 5 pets on board at times. This says to me, if pets owners are willing to pay, there will be room for their pet. It won't matter how many. I cannot imagine the poor flight attendants and pilots having to deal with all the problems this new policy will create. Bad policy in my opinion.
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I am very saddened by your news about added charges. Kinda messes up your great promotion of no added fares. I understand you gotta do what you gotta do, but I think I would rather have you up your fares rather than add on fees. I believe in your airline, have bought stock in your airline and think you have the best run airline I know of - and hope you will re-consider this decision. I will still fly SWA either way. But you may lose some loyal followers taking this road.
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I just want to add that obviously Southwest will pay attention to people that have allergies to pets. If someone is allergic to a service animal then someone gets reaccomodated. The same will happen, i'm sure, if there is a passenger that states they have an allergy to any animal that may be flying with them. For those that are concerned about their allergy they can always call the 1800 number and ask how many pets are listed to fly on a particular flight.. of course that could change at any time but why not be prepared? I just think it's crazy how concerned people are getting over this.. other carriers have transported pets in the cabin for years without the huge problems that people seem to think will happen now with southwest (dog fights, really? they will not be allowed out of their carriers!!) I just read on the tsa website (which for those that do not know, pertain to ALL airlines).. This was in their Q&A: "I have severe allergies to pet dander. How can I be sure that there is no pet dander on my flight? You will still be exposed to pet dander on every flight, even without any pets in the passenger cabin. This is because most allergens are carried into the cabin on the clothes of other passengers." If you say you will no longer fly Southwest because of the pets.. good luck finding another airline where you wont have pets in the cabin. So just say you wont fly at all.. because there is no other airline better than Southwest. Way to go Southwest, you make that money!
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Kudos to Southwest Airlines! Many of my friends will now be able to fly to distant cat shows with their impeccably groomed, freshly washed (this cuts down on dander) cats. You have given cat shows a needed "shot in the arm" with this new rule. I will now bring my business to SWA. Southwest has always been a friendly, forward-thinking, ahead-of-its-time, airline -- in my opinion -- and this new ruling proves it. Now, SWA is pet-friendly, too. Thank you, Southwest.
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Honestly, I am surprised. I thought we were trying to win the hearts of business clientele too. I am a ramp agent and can not understand why pet cant be loaded into bin A ? Airline customer can be very difficult as is, now your going to have the flight attendants to deal with the pet issues. As a ramp agent, who is pressured to load approx 120 bags in 20minutes, I just can't see why 1, 2, or maybe 3 small pet carriers in bin A would be an issue. Just imagine, a true pet lover, is going to attempt to remove that pet from the carrier and pets do have accidents. Also, some customers have true allergies to cats. Oh, boy, I just don't think it's worth the hassel, Gary. Now, speaking in terms of baggage, I totally agree with the third bag charge. The weight on these bags are getting ridiculous and I am begining to wonder if the company would rather pay out medical claims or charge the customer. MRI's are not cheap, and workers compensation can be a hassel...... These bags are so heavy and have to be stacked so quickly its no wonder why so many hard working good employees are living with injuries. Our customers provide for our families. I love our customers, but the pet in the cabin, I would really be careful with that one.
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What about my German Sheppard? It costs me quite a bit to leave her behind when I travel. I would gladly buy a seat for her,thanks to your low fares it would be entirely affordable, and I would get points! I call discrimination against SWA! Whats good for one is good for all, isn't that what your basic philosophy is as a company? So as absurd and silly as my aforementioned comments are, so too is the new policy. Gary- Please- Media is king in our world today. Get IGS, or whatever overpaid consultant you have in IT, to get your fleet fitted with WIFI and media services. That sells. Also one more suggestion, there are (2) doors that can be used for loading and unloading folks. Force these airports to retro fit the terminals to do so, that would save much more time, and ultimately money. I love your airline, the street is putting pressure on you, innovate again, Like herb used to do!
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Ok Anonymous FA if you work for Southwest maybe it's time you take the buy out. Because if you honestly can't recommend your airline theirs something wrong ....we call it job security. And honestly use spell check. And Michelle..I totally understand allergies, If I come in contact with cat hair I to have to have medication and possibly an epi-pen which I carry with me. But because I have allergies doesn't allow me to dictate the lives of others. I simply have to be prepared, Southwest will do everything possible to keep me and the cat I'm allergic to separated in the aircraft cabin. It's not all about me, and its not all about you. Again people THIS IS NOT A NEW CONCEPT. Every other carrier offers this service.
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It would be great if the policy could be extended to other small pets that can fit in such carriers, such as rabbits.
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I have flown for business for the past ten years using Southwest Airlines. Not only do I have allergies to fur, but I do not particularly like the idea of possibly sitting next to a pit bull or doberman pincher. I presume Southwest Airlines does not intend to first determine the dog's history of biting or whether it has had its shots, so it looks like this means I will have to start flying another airline. Many of us use the opportunity to take a nap, which may be difficult with dogs barking, especially when they begin barking at each other. Has anyone actually taken the time to consider that having a dog and a cat on an airplane is a really foolish idea - one does chase the other!?! Who is going to sweep and clean the fur off the seats between flights? Where are the animals going to go to the bathroom - will the flight attendance carry pooper scoopers? This is a joke, right? Let's hope whoever made this decision plans to make lots of money off the animals, because they certainly are going to lose plenty of human customers.
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Hard to believe that Southwest thinks that the revenue captured from allowing small pets in the cabin will be greater than the losses suffered from allergy-prone passengers who will choose another airline. Looking forward to watching the lawsuit Southwest is obviously prepared to fight from someone who has a severe medical condition triggered simply because Southwest wants to find a creative way to charge new fees. This airline has been going downhill ever since Herb Kelleher left, and it's new CEO is really bad, as evidenced by this poor decision. Sorry all you people with big dogs, it's the little ankle-biters and cats who get to be treated like people and even fly with them now. One things seems certain.....it's hard to make money buying/owning Southwest stock, but shorting the issue at this point is almost a sure winner...esp. with dumb decisions like these coming from the executive suites.
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Southwest will soon come to resemble any junky 3rd world bus. Will they allow chickens, goats, pet rats, etc.? Why not? Cats and small dogs are now OK. Another stupid decision by a once great airline being run into the ground by terrible management. And no, it isn't the economic times, it the corporate leadership....same as on Wall St., in our banks, automotive companies, etc.
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PAUSE for PAWS! That's what my Dad has been yelling since last night. He says you're gonna lose 20 seats for selling pet space below human butts for more than the butts are paying for their seats. He's better at math than I am, so I'll take his word for it. I don't get how a plane loses 20 seats for selling to animals. Me and my two brothers go to see Nana twice a year with Mom and Dad. We'll be going on American Airlines from now on, according to Dad. I hate American. They assign you an aisle and seat number! What fun is that? The best part of Southwest is knocking over the old people trying to get a good seat before we get to it. And, those cabin people with the funky uniforms at American don't let you yell and scream like they do at Southwest. My big brother likes American. He say they don't evict pretty young girls for wearing short skirts. My Dad wants to know when you are going to put a toll booth on the crappers?
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I'm extremely happy that Southwest is finally going to allow small pets on its flights! I've hated having to fly [other airline] in order to take my cat with me. I'm sorry to those of you with allergies who don't seem to be on a good enough regimen to control them... but having my cat confined in a small carrier and sleeping under a seat is not likely to release as much dander into the cabin as me walking around the aisle in a jacket which has cat hair and dander on it, like most of my clothes, and like I've probably been doing even without a cat on the plane. You can bet Southwest will be seeing many additional tickets from me this year that have been going to other airlines the last several years because of pet policies. THANK YOU, SOUTHWEST!!!! PS, given they still serve peanuts on Southwest flights, I'm willing to bet they've got plenty of EpiPens.... but all the same you should know: "Common causes [of anaphylaxis] include insect bites/stings, food allergies (peanuts and tree nuts are the most common, though not the only), and drug allergies. Pollens and other inhaled allergens rarely cause anaphylaxis." Emergency medical landings because of pet dander? Give me a break.
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I am a big SW fan - qualified for companion pass last 5+ years. But my beagle, Peanuts has always wondered why. In fact, in a column he wrote earlier this year he complimented Jetblue's pet policy - see below. I will have to tell him he needs to switch loyalties:) http://florence20.typepad.com/renaissance/2009/03/guest-column-er-howl-um-technology-and-beagles.html