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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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I am amazed following this story on different sources to see how people are reacting to this. Most concerned about pet allergies. First off many airlines have been doing this for years with no to no problems. Secondly a pet owner is going to have lots of pet dander already on their clothes. It would be interested to see how much pet dander is on a flight with no pets even on it. Lastly I am sure any airline would be happy to try and make special accommodations (ie have the pet as far away from you on the plane as possible) to make your flight better. I understand that Southwest has little choice. This makes great business sense. Doesn't add more weight (since it replaces on of the max carry-ons people can have) it doesn't take more room (pet under the seat) and they get $75 per pet. I would rather Southwest do this, than start charging for other silly things like other airlines! David Brown http://www.theairlineblog.com
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I feel PAWS is a great new policy. You are limiting the amount of animals that can be on one flight so I can not see why there is such a fuss about it. If someone has a severe allergy they need to wear a mask. They probably should be wearing a mask anyway as the animals can not be the only allergy they have. Lets face it I do not believe people travel on Southwest because you did not allow pets. They travel on Southwest because you have the best prices and great employees. You are a fun airline to travel on, Keep up the good work and thank you.
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Kudos to SWA for making this change! You have opened up my entire home airport to me - and those that may be flying here for an event I host (cat show). I must confess, I am amazed at the ignorance of many of the posters on this blog. If you have EVER flown another airline - a pet was probably on the plane. Cat and/or dog dander really isn't that pervasisve. It is amazing how many times someone near me has commented to me -as we left the plane - about cat allergies. They didn't die, heck they didn't even sneeze. With regard to animal "smells" and such - most folks I know that travel with pets plan ahead. My pets are well-bathed (probably cleaner than me when I travel with them) and I withhold food/water in advance to ensure empty bladder/bowels. I have no cats that require sedation. I have a couple that talk some, but generally go right to sleep once in the air. Just like small infants - takeoff/landing hurts their ears and is something they don't understand. And actually, small dogs tend to be more sensitive than cats. I have had a couple of cats able to push open the zippers on their carriers - but I certainly didn't let them out and was quickly chastised by flight attendants when they let themselves out. SWA isn't just looking at pet fee income,but a whole segment of the travelling population they have excluded. I show cats - like at least 2 other posters I recognize on this blog. Many of you would be amazed how many of us fly A LOT with our cats - to shows. I flew 14 times roundtrip from May 1, 2008 to April 30, 2009 (the show season). SWA is probably the largest provider in my airport - I couldn't fly them for this purpose. There are cat shows going on all over the country and I can assure you - this is the hottest topic at those events - even ahead of who is winning. SWA has already gained thousands of frequent travelers with this policy. I did see one comment about the unaccompanied minor policy. I have no idea what those rules are for other airlines - but I can say that I have flow SWA for a total of 3 flights prior to this post - and the first one for 4 hours, with three unaccompanied minors in the row behind me. The flight attendants put them all toghether - BAD IDEA! They were horrible. Parents, if you think your little Johnny cannot misbehave - you are wrong. Well, one was fine, the other 2 were intolerable. Finally, 3 hours into the flight, I came up over my seat and threatened them. Should there be a fee - yes! All I kept thinking is that I was supposed to pay to shove my cat under the seat on other airlines. I have been on more than one flight with children flying FREE in laps. And more than one where they had a seat and where incorrigible. No one withheld food so they didn't release bowels - or bothered to tell them to sit down & be quiet. People think we should sedate our pets - what about the children screaming for 4 hours straight (different flight/airline than the above) - or the 13 mos. old that crawled into my lap uninvited while mom had a beer - and wet herself! I do have a concern for people with allergies, but again, the hair/dander on my clothes (that may be there whether or not I brougt a cat) is going to be a more immediate risk than the super clean cat under the seat on the way to compete for major awards. And there are many instances where the presence of an animal on the plane was announced and the only way to accommodate the allergic passengers is to move the pet/owner to first class - so I guess SWA better develop that class next. Again, thank you SWA - you will see more benefit from this than you realize!
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You are making a big mistake. You want to join all those others Brian? People will let pets out of the carriers and force FAs to be police. 7 pets on a plane, are you money grubbing or what? 2 per cabin is the norm. I hope all FAs will declare TSA rules and have pilots call and have TSA meet them for disturbing flights when they let them out. I am a pet lover but only service dogs are allowed. BRING BACK HERB as Kelly is a fool and I hope the FA union stops the madness....
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It seems like Southwest is going to the dogs...litter-ally (mis-spelling intentional!)
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I liked it better when Southwest had a no pet policy. I have been on other airlines that have some dog barking through half the flight and it really sucks! Not to mention, I'm allergic to all cats and some dogs. There is nothing anyone can do about a barking dog except hope the plane lands soon so you can get off the plane. I think this is about generating renue for the airline and not about the customers. If it is revenue you want, why don't you just have a nominal charge of $25 for the 2nd checked luggage and continue to leave the first bag free?
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I'm glad to see Southwest make this change. I am a part of the cat fancy - ie., I show cats at cat shows. While this change is wonderful for us...we are not the majority of people who travel with animals. There are a lot of individuals who just want to have their animal companion(s) travel with them. Their pet is a part of their family and the idea of leaving them home, boarding them, having to drive to their destination or worse not being able to travel at all is not acceptable. For those people leaving negative comments... The size of the carrier that will fit under a seat is relatively small. For an animal to be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier (one of the requirements of Southwest) they will have to be "small" (we're not talking about a german shepherd or even a cocker spanial - unless it's a young puppy). Even some cat fanciers will have a problem if they have a large cat (as the blog on "Jack Bauer" notes). The people who are going to PAY to have their pet travel with them are not going to be bringing "smelly" animals on board...they will be well cared for, clean, well mannered pets or show animals. A small, clean pet in a carrier (especially a soft side one with mesh inserts) does not release a lot of pet dander (dander is the cause of allergic pet reactions, not the hair). I realize that there are some people who are allergic to cat or dog dander. I am allergic to the majority of perfume essences. Yet I still travel. I always have allergy medication with me and I make sure to advise the airline when I make my reservation. I would suggest that Southwest find a way to ask all passengers when they purchase their ticket if they have ANY allergic issues. Then if they are booked on a flight that also has an animal on board, or someone who is awash in perfume, measures can be taken to decrease the risk to everyone. Let's be reasonable people...we can work this out Southwest, I applaud you on your decision. Shay
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Thank you SWA for your new pet policy. I fly several times a year to dog shows sometimes with a entry (yorkie). I respect other passengers with potential problems. I ask those seated next to me if they have allergy issues or concerns. I am well aware that all folks don't like pets or have medical issues. I go to great lengths to prepare and be responsible. On a flight last year to Westminster, the passenger next to me shared his involvement with a chld with severe allergies as he was enroute to a meeting in NY on research funded by concerned parents in this area. His son and other allergy patients have such severe allergies they react to even particulates on other peoples clothing from pets. My flight buddy with her entry and I spent a long time answering his questions on how and if he could realistically bring a dog into his family as his children were begging for a dog despite obvious problems. So if you take the debate to the next step than there is a real problem when you consider that animals need not be present for sensitive individuals to succomb to allergens on a pet owning passenger's clothing. There is growiing concern and research over the increased incidence of allergies and other major health concerns and the debate needs to find workable solutions. It doesn't stop at pets ......... Perhaps SW can post on their website suggestions for passengers with pets to do their part to ensure that this is a successful program. For the record, I have had a dog escape her carrier by nosing through an opening at the closure when the snack cart was going by so I now fasten the zipper enclosure shut. A second experience was a soft whine for a moment when her ears were adjusting to the cabin pressure. I now carry chews in my pocket for the problem. There was the passenger in the next row that shouted that there was a dog running up and down the aisle when in fact she never went beyond the seat directly in front of me. I thought the outburst was ridiculous and even amusing and I definitely am reading that type outburst in the posts here. Most of us know that does go with the territory when it comes to internet posts. It's a tactic and not very productive at that. There has to be some tolerance when flying. My peeves are being shoved in between elbows or hips that spread into by seat, the smell of tobacco or alcohol, body oder, heavy perume, unruly children, and passengers who don't cover their cold and flu fluids or cough into their hands and then touch hundreds of surfaces after. If available I can look for another seat and I now carry sanitizing wipes and tissues and have shared them with my seatmates. And, I'm just fine with not being a frequent flyer. Nothing glamorous about it and the best happens when you can have a good conversation with a fellow traveler. Happy Flying!
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I am sure SWA could make money in other ways, Children with peanut allergies should not fly on SWA because its in the air even if they are not served on the flight. Do you have any idea how many people die with Asthma every year (young and old). Oh yes they are allergiec pets. I do not have a pet nor can I have a pet in the house and I sure do not want to sit by one. Oh yes if you have a cat in your house, I will not be visiting you. Children often cry because their ears hurt . If parents are not smat enough not to take their kids when they have a cold or congested do you think they will even think about the pets ears hurting or vomiting. Forgot that does not smell. I know people that would love to fly SWA but no O2 other airlines allow it, yes they charge for it. Offer fruit or something people that are allergic to wheat and other gains, we would gladly pay for it.
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Most people don't realize that what they are allergic to is the saliva of the pet. I've travelled extensively with pets (mainly cats) and several times the cat hasn't said anything until we got to our destination. At that point the person next to me is suddenly deathly allergic... Umm, yea, and you were really deathly allergic for the past 3 hrs I'm assuming... IIRC, if you pay for your pet, it has paid for a ticket and the person who is allergic will be offered to take another flight. That used to be the general standard when I was traveling at least (not that I ever ran into someone who took another flight, suddenly getting from point A to B more important than being deathly allergic to a pet).
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I don't have the disdain for Gary Kelly than some posters on this site do, but I really don't understand this pet action. There is a huge disconnect--SWA has begun to court business passengers and now pet lovers, which other than the cat show people, seem to be diametrically opposed. Pet allergies and the attendant potential problems associated with this pet policy are not inconsequential. For the minimal income this policy will generate and the great amount of bad will generated and probable loss of significantly more revenue from customers switching from SWA, I think this is an ill conceived and poorly thought out business decision. Where is the concern for all the people allergic to pets, especially cats? Let's see, make a few more people happy and make many more unhappy. This has the potential to become a public relations nightmare. I agree with Rebecca Lee's earlier posts. And to Brian Lusk, SWA employee, who is trying to support the SWA decision--SWA has had service animals on board and I've seen one in 30 years and why would you want to be like all the other (largely unsuccessful) airlines and carry pets? Southwest is different and has been successful for several reasons--ease of use of the internet site, generally on time flights and few cancellations, the friendly spirit and rewards program among others. Don't add a policy that is going to generate strong opposition and dislike from a large percentage of your customers Southwest Airlines is often not the lowest fare airlines now, but I love it (up to now). If you need more income, raise fares $1-10--that would be significantly more income than what will be generated by the pets. Maybe SWA should poll their customers and particularly their frequent ones--A List and Companion Award earners. I would think those are the people you don't want to offend. I sincerely hope that the push back is so strong that SWA will rethink its policy and kill it before SWA does irrepreble harm to itself. I'm an annual 20+ trip flier and flew on SWA in the early 70's in Texas--I hope I don't have to look for another airline.
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Out of all the folks protesting and railing against the new policy (some apparently in a hyper-emotionalized manner), I wonder how many have actually taken the time to read the new policy (including the rules and regs) from begining to end. Not many, it would seem. >>>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. Will either of those two breeds of dogs actually *fit* inside of a small pet container that must be able to fit under a seat, while still givng the animal room enough to stand within the carrier itself? Gee, what about my Great Dane or St. Bernard puppy? Geez... >>>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!?! Kind of hard for a dog within a carrier to chase a cat within a different carrier, don't you think? Or do you expect to see the carriers bouncing and chasing themselves up and down the aisles? >>>Who is going to sweep and clean the fur off the seats between flights? Animals are restricted to their carriers. So all this fur is going magically float out of the carrier and land on the seat? Wouldn't the pet's owner be sitting in the seat anyways? Seems like any fur that flies (if it actually does) would land on that passenger, and not the seat. >>>People will let pets out of the carriers and force FAs to be police. Which (the enforcement) is as it should be. There are going to be rules associated with the new pet policy, and they're going to be enforced against those who think they're somehow entitled to make their own rules and regs. As someone else mentioned earlier, non-compliance with F/A instructions (whether one personally disagrees with them or not) is a violation of FAA regs, and ones that even John Q. Passenger can be cited for. There are plenty of folks who've discovered this only upon landing, and only once they were facing federal charges. I'm going to continue to fly SWA with no concerns irrespective of no pets or Yes to pets. I do have allergies (of several kinds), but it's my own duty to make sure that anything I encounter during my day I'll be able to handle on my own with my meds or my Epipen. I'm going to proceed on the logical and reasonable presumption that SWA has given ample thought to the new policy, and will enforce the rules and regs so that it will function as planned and designed. If a problem does arise that goes beyond my what my level of personal preparation can handle, I'll cross that bridge when (and if) I come to it, but I'm not going to let myself get all wrapped around the axle with all these "what if someone tries to bring their herd of pet wildebeasts along" or other goofy "what-if" situations that even a cursory reading of the program's rules and regs precludes. Lions, tigers, and bears; Oh my!
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This is not good at all. What if any accommodations have you made for those of us that are allergic to pets. What about the long flights and the animals using their carrier as a restroom and having to smell that smell for hours on end. What if the pilots are alergic to animals? Who gets kicked of the pilot or the animal? Hope you will have medical staff on board every flight now that this is allowed. Then the extra money for unaccompanied children! I hope the flight attendants will then be a little more responsible for the children then. I have been on plenty of flights that the kids have not been taken care of and run rapid. I am not a happy camper with this new flight rules. Not happy at all!
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"What if the pilots are alergic to animals? Who gets kicked of the pilot or the animal?" Why, the pilots, of course. There are -so many- experts out there, -surely- one of them knows how to fly a 737, and -better- than anybody. "Hope you will have medical staff on board every flight now that this is allowed." Yes, they'll mounted on the cabin wall behind glass door that says "IN CASE OF PET ALLERGY BREAK GLASS" "Then the extra money for unaccompanied children! I hope the flight attendants will then be a little more responsible for the children then. I have been on plenty of flights that the kids have not been taken care of and run rapid." Gasp! You mean they run fast, or run "rampant"? I'm surprised that some of the people on this thread have the courage to venture out from their homes...
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SWA should mirror British Airways handling of pets. 1. They are in heated presurized baggage. 2. They are housed at a BA pet facility before the flight staffed by a Vet and animal lovers who does the loadind and the unloading of animals. 3. It works .I have sent animals back and forth to the UK several times. 4. Forget $75 USD and calculate the real costs. Between the US and UK the cahrge ranges from $150 USD to $350 USD depending on animal needs. Lastly don't put them in the cabin.
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As a travel agent, I know that most carriers do allow pets in cabin. Traditionally, they have to be in an approved pet carrier, and you are only allowed ONE pet per cabin. As Southwest offers only one cabin class, this will mean only one pet per plane. Calm down! Southwest has done it right for so long, I seriously doubt they will get this wrong.
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Hooray Southwest Airlines!! First of all, to those who mention allergy concerns...most pets flying are better groomed than most of your children (and I DO have children, so not opposed to those either!) And I know they're probably much better behaved. Our pets will most often travel so quietly that you'll never know they are there, and they don't kick the back of your chair or whine every few minutes about "getting there" or "what they want...". They are concealed in very nice carriers that are not going to allow the dander or hair to affect you, and I doubt that you who complain of the potential problems have given a thought to your over perfumed person, or the extra room you take with the few extra pounds you're carrying lately. Southwest Airlines has always offered the utmost in service and professionalism, and if an unusual problem presented itself with a pet on board I have the confidence they will resolve the unusual problem. Remember, a dislike for animals really doesn't constitute an "allergy", so keep this in mind! And, for the record I am allergic to WHINING, so please keep that to yourself and let everyone's trip be an enjoyable experience. Maybe, just maybe, something you're doing, wearing, exposing others to, etc. 'may' be undesirable too. Some people only have their pets, and if you've see the positive results pets have done in rehabilitating the elderly, ill, depressed, etc., you'd realize this is a GOOD thing! Be thankful for all that is good on the flight and in your health and well being allows you to be traveling....things could be WORSE! God Bless!
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Regarding charging for UMs - I have been flying a UM regularly between OAK and SAN for the past 4 years. What are the extra costs on SWA's part? I fill out the forms, i wait at the gate, the flight attendants get to walk off the plane first with the UM....as far as I can tell, there are zero extra costs. If UMs travel and must switch flights, then I would be OK with it - last I recall, UMs can only travel on non-stops. Using cost as an excuse is not a good one. AND...if as you say UMs account for less than 1% of total revenue, how much extra revenue are you really going to raise by pulling this one? Since the policy has been decided, I would at least ask that you put the forms online to fill out in advance - hey saving time and money - and less hassle for parents. Come on SWA, you guys have always led....now you're falling in line with the other carriers and that is a damned shame. Rethink this one.
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Two things: You clearly haven't enforced the "no pets" policy well AT ALL. People were sneaking them on ALL THE TIME. So one question is, how can you expect your employees to enforce the "no pets out of the carrier" policy, if they couldn't/wouldn't enforce a "no pets" policy? The airline I work for has taken pets at least as long as I've been working there, and I'm telling you, from a flight attendant's perspective, it's IMPOSSIBLE to enforce; this is one thing it seems that people just won't obey. Even when people ACKNOWLEDGE that they KNOW they're not supposed to remove the pet, they DO. It's under a blanket, in their lap, under a coat, sitting on an empty adjacent seat, taken to the lav, etc., etc., etc. I promise you, they've been doing this on SW for YEARS. Now, when they've PAID a FEE, they will feel as if they've paid to let the pet loose, too, and paid for the privilege to not be told what to do with their pet! You've already got one employee on this site reminding folks that their pets can't "roam." "ROAM"? THEY'RE NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE OUT OF THE CARRIERS, AND YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE TALKING ABOUT NOT LETTING THEM "ROAM." Methinks you have lots and LOTS of training to do. And yes, the allergy sufferers are really and truly up a creek. Some of them have been flying SW for so long that they are unaware that other airlines have always accepted pets. So rather than chase them to your competitors, you have chased them to the ground. That is why you really don't care about them. They may not spend their flying dollars with you anymore, but they won't be spending them at your competitors either. The cat fanciers are supposed to make up that lost revenue, I GUESS. I wish every poster on this site who has applauded your new policy will re-post and state that they understand that they cannot take their pets out of carriers at ANYTIME on a flight. And have you noticed the give-'em-an-inch-they'll-take-a-mile stuff? People who now want to know why on earth they can't bring their rabbit, and why can't they strap their labrador into the seat next to them, if they're willing to buy them a ticket, etc.? Good luck on this. HAH! It's really too bad that people with bona fide medical conditions can't fly commercially anymore, once your policy is enacted, being as you were the last carrier to (at least officially) forbid pets in cabin. I'm also still VERY concerned from a safety standpoint. Passengers with pet carriers should be required to sit next to a window, so that in an emergency evacuation their efforts to save their pet will not hamper the evacuation of those sitting near them.
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I read one brief post asking how much of an impact "one" pet could have on allergy sufferers. But according to your own website, you will allow FIVE carriers (and your wording leaves it up to YOU to allow even more!) with TWO pets in EACH. That's TEN pets on board...
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As a dog owner - this is the end of civilizaiton. It's a pleasure smelling a dog on a cross country filght combined with the animal barking all the way, which I have experienced on other flights. Do I get a discount if I am seated next to a loud and smelly animal. What's next, animal only bathrooms. Where is the animal supposed "go" when they have to "go". The only dogs that should and have been allowed are properly trained service animals. Putting an animal on a flight in these conditions boarders on cruel and unsual punishment. If you really need to take your animal - drive.
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I get why you're increasing fees on overweight and excess bags, after all you do still allow 2 bags for free as long as they're 50 lbs or less. I also get why you're now charging for UM's, the employees are ulitimately responsible for them both on the ground (when the people picking them up are not there on time) and in the air. What I don't understand though is why you let someone who has an infant take up a seat that they didn't pay for, after all you charge customers of size a fee for going into an extra seat and then you make them go through hoops to get the money back if it's not full -- why don't you do that for people with infants especially since you still have the lowest fares in the business. Why wouldn't someone want to put their child in a seat for their comfort and safety. Everyone just seems to want to get things for free and by allowing this practice you are giving them exactly what they want and then they get mad when they're told to hold their child. I wish you would charge even a $50 fee for allowing them to use their car seat if they didn't pay for that seat (or just purchase the seat to begin with). Please consider this in the future.
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What is the policy for emergency evacuations (when you use the big slide) and your pet? Will I be allowed to carry my Bernard with me down the slide or will I have to leave him on the plane as he is considered a "carry on"? I did pay $75 so I should be able to carry him with me? I'm confused about this issue.
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As a business traveler and frequent Business Select passenger I am disgusted at this new change of policy and will no longer be traveling on Southwest Airlines. I was excited to see the new Chicago-Minneapolis routes and jumped on the opportunity to become a Southwest passenger. This will change as soon as the policy takes place and I will not travel on Southwest planes. I am trying to try run a business and I am not interested in riding on a circus plane. My allergies and my nerves cannot take it. You've lost my business, Mr. Kelly. Please consider making your cabins more professional friendly and less like a pet store and I will consider paying for BS tickets again.
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For everyone allergic to animals, something to consider. Everyone who owns pets are already covered with their hair and dander when they get on a plane. Also, the animals are confined in small travel crates, they are not allowed out throughout the entire flight. You will probably be exposed to no more hair and dander than if someone had hugged their cat goodbye before they went on their trip. Plus, every other airline already allows it. Take a Benadryl and have a great flight!
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Pets on the airplanes? Not for me, no thank you. I am a dog and cat lover (have one dog) but please people, leave your pets at home or in the care of a friend or family member. I will use alternative air service when I can.
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Thank you Southwest!! I'll be flying home after vacation and will be able to bring my friend's furry budd back to her!! She is ecstatic that I'll be able to do this for her all because Southwest is so GREAT!!! Thank you..
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I'm an "A List" passenger on Southwest. I'm also somewhat allergic to cats - if I get a bunch of dander, my eyes swell shut and I have trouble breathing. However, I support the new P.A.W.S initiative. Why? SImply because I've already been on Southwest flights with pets - pets that the owners have smuggled on in their carry-on luggage, and I've survived just fine. Yes, I carry allergy medications with me. And, for the people who complain that Benadryl makes them drowsy, there ARE other medications that don't make you drowsy. Ask your doctor for a prescription. As a frequent flier, and a stockholder, I feel that the $25 charge for UMs is entirely reasonable. I want to emphasize that he great majority of UMs are the best children to be around on the plane - they're well-behaved, and, unlike other children, know to not kick the seats, etc. However, processing and handling them (I know, that sounds like a food processing plant) takes up extra time and attention of Southwest's employees, especially the CSRs on the ground. This is especially true when there is any sort of an irregular operation of a flight, especially at an intermediate stop, or when the receiving adult fails to show at the gate on time. While not every child, every flight, or every adult is responsible for causing this, the fee spreads the cost out equally and fairly. I just looked at several other airlines' web sites, and Southwest's $25 fee is VERY reasonable when compared to the other airlines' $100 fees (in each direction!). It will be interesting to see how the P.A.W.S program and the changes to the UM program play out. I suspect that, just like the (excellent!) changes Southwest made to its boarding procedures over the past year, we'll all find that they work out to almost everyone's benefit.

Be inquisitive.  As long as you are learning, you are alive.

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"We know from customer and employee feedback that our new 'pet' customers will be a welcomed addition to any flight," said Southwest Airlines Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly. AND EXACTLY WHICH CUSTOMERS WERE ASKED FOR FEEDBACK? I know as a frequent Southwest flyer, my opinion was never requested - and it would have definitely been in opposition to this new rule. Customer lost, Southwest. What a lousy decision you have all made.
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I can't believe Southwest is allowing cats and dogs on planes. I have really bad allergic reactions to cats and dogs both. How in considerate of your passengers. I'm sure you will not gain as many passangers with your new PAW program as you will loose. If I am getting ready for a Southwest flight and someone on that flight has a pet I will get a different flight no matter the expense. What will be next smoking is allowed on airlines? How is allowing pets on airlines any different than allowing people to smoke on airlines. Both is un-healthy to people. I hope this program is just a trial run and is gotten rid of.
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The carrier has to fit under the seat in front of the pasenger - How big will that carrier be? *The size of a large purse, maybe a computer case? A hat box (no that's probably too big), What size animal fits in a carrier that will fit completely under the seat AND the dog or cat must be able to stand up in the carrier AND turn around while standing? * a lab? (well maybe a weeks old puppy) * a rottweiler (again, maybe a weeks old puppy - and it's not too tall) * a Chihuahau (bingo!) * a Terrier (only the tiniest) * a Cat? only the average size The size of the animal is limited, the space for the carrier is unforgiving (remember the life vests are taking up some of this space) - the animals WILL NOT be large. 5 animals per flight, yep only 5........ And btw - fresh air is circulated every 2 minutes. Folks take the time to really read the information that SW has put out on the subject, new things always seem scary. If it doesn't work or problems crop up they'll address it. Customer service will still be #1 in our Servant's Heart. Susan Welcome Aboard
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Why are you bringing your pet on vacation anyway??? What do you plan on doing when you get there??? Taking the dog to the mall? Bringing kitty for a nice day out to the beach? A lovely family dinner with the pets? I don't get it, you go on vacation to get away do crazy things you wouldn't do at home. Just gonna lock the poor little guys in the hotel all day and night? Not to mention finding a pet friendly hotel, I do like Hotel Monaco by the way! But as far as the over-reactions of most comments here, the impact I think will be very small having pets on the plane. I will not be travelling with my cat, she will be far more comfortable at home with a friend checking in on her. Earlier comments are probably right, I have more pet dander on my clothes than that which can escape the pet carrier! UM fees I agree with, as I understand when parents are late picking up their child it is taking an airline employee away from their duties. CALM DOWN PEOPLE!
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I am very disappointed in the new pet policy. What is next smoking in the cabin is allowed? What is the difference b/w the two. Both are unhealthy to people with allergies. Are you going to take $75 of the price of the person's ticket who has to sit next to a pet? What if the animal goes to the bathroom and the stinch makes people sick to their stomach? I have a hard timing changing my 3 month old daughers diaper, I can't imagine having to smell dog crap on a plane. If I see someone that has the same flight as I do with a pet, I will be requesting to sit at the other end of the plane or waiting for the next flight. As some one else said what customers did you ask about the new policy. It wasn't me and I fly Southwest at least once a month.
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This is bad news. I am allergic to cats and I have trouble breathing around them. I am a frequent user of SW airlines. This is really disturbing to me. Do you care more for the animals than for the passengers?
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I'm against the policy change and will not be traveling with Southwest again. I employ 50 employees and we travel often (20 times or more a month) as Business Select travelers. I sent out an email about the policy change and was surprised to see that over half of my employees 39 out of 50 were opposed to this policy change and requested that we find a different way of traveling to our clients. I agree with them.
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Please don't allow dogs and cats on airplanes. Cat dander causes asthma attacks, and it is difficult (for me and many others) to tell when the attack is coming. It is so important to keep the inside of the airplane clean, and humans have enough germs and dirt to put us all at risk when we fly. Please don't allow cats and dogs on our SWA flights.
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Again the question must be asked - What carrier will you choose now that ALL carriers allow animals? Really, if animals are the true reason - I'd like to know which non-animal carrier you will find to serve your domestic flight needs. To those who have flown on other carrier who've allowed pets for years - how many pets and or problems have you seen?
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I don't know about others' dogs, but my dog is kept very clean and parasite-free. As for allergies, I have allergies to cats, but I carry the proper meds to deal with that and I don't have a problem with a cat in a carrier right next to me, or even in a lap next to me. Interesting... I have never been disturbed by the sound or smell of a pet in a plane in my many years of flying, but I am often disturbed by screeching babies and poopy diaper smells. Don't get me wrong, I love kids and I think they do belong on a plane. I am confused by the tremendous vitriol unleashed by the haters. Okay, if I bring my dog, I will bring enough Benadryl to treat the entire cabin. I will follow all the rules. And I will choose Southwest because they have common sense. Good job.
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Mr. Kelly In the words of Tom Wolfe in his book, The Right Stuff, you and those at SWA have "screwed the pooch" on this decision to allow pets. It's like starting the pro life/abortion debate--you're going to offend half of the people. What were you guys thinking?
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I have terrible allergies and the thought of sharing a 737 single class cabin with cats or dogs would cause me to become incredibly sick. Is my health less important than your bottom line? Don't answer it. I already know the answer. 😞 You have lost me as your customer.
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I am planning on traveling on SWA with my 2 cats because I am moving cross-country and would rather fly than drive for 3 days straight. However, I am concerned about people with severe cat allergies on my flight, and would like to help avoid an allergic reaction if such a person is on board. I plan to give the cats a bath before the flight, withhold food and water a few hours before to prevent accidents, and grab seats at the back of the plane. I hope Southwest will somehow inform those with severe allergies that there are cats on board so that these people can sit as far away as possible. The last thing I want is to cause someone to have health complications, and I will definitely not be letting the cats out of their carriers. But some of the people on this board are severely overreacting: dog fights? circus? dogs chasing cats down the aisles? The risk of small children disturbing a flight is much higher than the risk of pets who are not allowed out of their carriers causing a disturbance. And for those of you who say you will not continue to travel with SWA because of this policy, which airline will you switch to? I'm just curious, and honestly just want to know because all other airlines allow pets in the cabin. If someone really wanted to avoid taking a flight with an animal on board, maybe the airline could designate a number of flights that will or will not allow pets, so these people with allergy concerns will be assured there is no danger of pets on their flight? In any case, people, it is not the end of the world; calm down and try to be more willing to make things work for both you and the pet owners.
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This is great news. I fly Southwest and Jet Blue. I got a Amex Jet Blue card just so we could get tickets for the rare instance that we need to being our small dog to Florida. For those with the pet problems...I'll take a pet over a fat person taking up my seat space any day of the week.
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I must express my dissappointment with the new PAWS policy. Aside from the obvious allergy issues, there is no way Southwest has the time or flight attendant capacity to ensure that each pet carrier brought onboard is leak proof. This will be the next major issue behind allergies. It will only take time for someone's pet to have an accident that seeps into the carpet due to a non-leakproof holder. Voille, the next person to place their carryon under the seat will have a pleasant surprise when they disembark the plane. Also, many cat paws can and do reach through the grates and air holes which can potentially scratch the persons ankles in front of them. I applaud all the pet owners who are conscience about having a correct carrier, having your animal treated for fleas, bath them regularly etc...However, Southwest caters to a lower cost passenger and therefore you will find many of those who don't believe the rules pertain to them as well as many who won't even read the rules. We witnessed it before the new PAWS policy when people snuck their pets onboard and we will certainly see it after the new policy goes into effect. Fleas are another huge problem, once in the carpet, the only way to stop a flee infestation is to chemically treat the aircraft. So now you will have added chemicals on your flights to breath. Additionally, some people are allergic to fleas and yes they do bite humans. Lastly, do I really want to listen to barking dogs or meowing cats while onboard. Yes, some pets will be perfectly behaved, however, this will not always be the case. If SWA feels they must implement this policy, they should restrict these passengers to the last row of the aircraft which will alleviate many potential problems such as allergies, pet accidents and pet noise. Airlines should be for carrying people to and from destinations. Pet owners can use a variety of other modes of transportation to bring a pet. I am saddened by the fact that Southwest believes the revenue generated by their new pet policy is more important than the passengers who have made their carrier a success. Southwest HAD poised themselves to be carrier of choice among business travellers. That may be changing soon and the revenue generated from your last minute bookers aka business travellers will be lost to those who book ahead of time to take their pets. In closing, I have to laugh at something every kid has heard growing up....if so & so jumped off a bridge would you? Just because all the other carriers are allowing pets doesn't mean you must. Perhaps you aquired passengers because of this fact and not in spite of it. ...The proud owner of 6 dogs and cats.
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I do not appreciate the new paws policy. those of us with severe pet allergies should not be subjected to fido or fluffy and their hair, dander, and pet smells. this is a poor policy choice and as I have seen on the reviews, I am in the majority in objecting. come on SWA, show respect for the your paying human passengers. Thanks! Dotti
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Yvonne noted in her comment on 5.29.08 that there are no Service Cats to disabled people... I beg to differ. Cats are and have been used as Service Animals for quite some time... One of the many ways in which they are used is to detect seizures and anxiety attacks - before they happen. I know of several people who have assistive cats. One in particular comes to mind...The person who owns this cat suffers from severe anxiety attacks (that can develop into seizures) - so I do mean severe. In this case the cat travels with her owner everywhere. When the cat senses an attack or seizure coming on she has been trained to signal her owner in several different ways...and she keeps it up until she has her owners attention. This has kept her owner from ending up in the hospital or worse numerous times. While it is not directly related to this thread...there are numerous animals other than dogs and cats that are trained to be assistive animals....miniature horses are now leading blind people, monkeys are helping people with physical disabilities....... Shay
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your new "paws" policy is just plain crazy. what braintrust thought this was a good idea?..and what do people with allergies do?
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I am a long-time SW customer who's allergic to cats, regardless of size. I live without pets, have never had the need to take drugs for this (and no, Benadryl or Claritin don't cut it-to those who just want us to pop pills and take shots) and do not plan to do so. I avoid the homes of those who own cats. At best, if I have to go to such place, I may last one hour before allergies act up (that's when home is clean, otherwise it's immediate). Basically, once my cat allergy starts (watery eyes, sneezing/sniffles and the feeling of hair going through nose and throat {oh yes, that's a disgusting feeling-hate this most]), even when I leave the area that triggered it, I will still have it last the rest of the day. Nothing like being in an enclosed cabin for at least 2 hours in this environment (my typical flights are at least this long). I'm ok with dogs, other than the dog smell. Cats are cute, but can't be around them at all based on what I described above. I suggest that this new pet policy be reconsidered. Thanks.
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How disappointing, I was hoping my next flight would be on southwest. That's not going to be happening now. It's not like those of us with cat/dog allergies can pop a pill and be okay, that's not how it works. What happens when a child whose parent doesn't know their child has severe cat/dog allergies has an asthma attack mid flight? What if he/she dies?
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Great news. I don't often fly with my pets but it's nice to have the option. To the hypochondriacs with horrible over exaggerated allergies. Do you go outside often? Perhaps we should round up all the squirrels and chipmunks and other animals so you won't have a reaction and of course planting flowers should be made illegal too. Or perhaps you can all seal yourselves in plastic bubbles the rest of us won't have to listen to your annoying self centered babble anymore. If its really "THAT" big of an issue just fly on another carrier that does not allow pets.
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I am so happy that you are allowing in-cabin pets. This was the only thing that stopped me from flying Southwest when I had to take my little dog with me. Bravo Southwest for the incredible prices, customer service, and thanks for not hiding fees.