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Southwest Airlines Revised Policies for Emotional Support and Trained Service Animals


Southwest Airlines recently announced that, consistent with new regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), we are making changes to our policies regarding trained service animals and emotional support animals. Effective March 1, 2021, Southwest will accept only trained service dogs for travel and will no longer transport emotional support animals.


With this revision, we will only allow service dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability to travel with the Customer. The types of disability include a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability, and only dogs will be accepted (including those for psychiatric service)—no other species will be accepted as a trained service animal. 


We applaud the Department of Transportation’s recent ruling that allows us to make these important changes to address numerous concerns raised by the public and airline employees regarding the transport of untrained animals in the cabins of aircraft. Southwest Airlines continues to support the ability of qualified individuals with a disability to bring trained service dogs for travel and remains committed to providing a positive and accessible travel experience for all of our Customers with disabilities.


As part of this change, Customers traveling with trained service dogs now must present a complete, and accurate, DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form at the gate or ticket counter on their day of travel to affirm a service animal’s health, behavior, and training. Customers should complete the form, which will be available both on the airline’s website and at airport locations, after booking their travel.


Additionally, Southwest will no longer accept emotional support animals for travel effective on March 1, 2021. Customers may still travel with some animals as part of the airline’s existing pets program for a charge; however, the animals must meet all applicable requirements regarding in-cabin stowage and species (dogs and cats only).


Customers who hold existing reservations for travel with unaccepted animals after February 28, 2021, may contact Southwest for more information and assistance. Southwest’s policies for traveling with trained service animals can be reviewed at

Explorer A

I have been a loyal SWA A-List Preferred customer for years.  I now have an emotional support dog that weighs 7 lbs and with the new policy I will no longer fly SWA.  I am sad to leave as I loved the people of this airline but my dog is more important.  I am not sure why there is the need to go from all to none.  Policies are important but this is a mistake

Explorer C

I have a 20 lb Emotional Support dog that is too big to squish under the seat in a carrier for hours at a time!  At least SWA could allow us to take our pets out after takeoff.  But I guess they could care less about our pets or our anxiety over flying or the poor person sitting next to us having to deal with our nervousness or losing customers!!  Been a loyal customer for many years but this will change!

Explorer C

People forget this is a federal rule. Southwest has no control they're simply following it.  ALL US airlines follow this. 

Explorer C

Sorry that is incorrect.  Airlines do have a choice in this matter.  The new Department of Transportation rule is and I quote:


"Carriers are not required to recognize emotional support animals as service animals and may treat them as pets."


Previous to this airlines were required to recognize ASA animals.  Now they are not required to and can make their own choice in this matter.  Initially SW said they would still allow them but then changed their policy.  


I understand that many passengers were abusing this and bringing animals that disturbed the peace & safety of other passengers and flight attendants but they could have revised their rules to allow only dogs as ESA's. 


By the way there are still a few smaller airlines that allow ESA's.



Explorer C

Tomorrow will be my last flight with SWA. I’m sad that we will have to stopped flying with SWA because of this policy. 

My husband and I are traveling around with our emotional support dog. I do have anxiety flying in the airplane. My ESA has been helping me a lot, going through international flight. Delta and United are the best for flying with pets even though if your pets are not ESAs.