I’m a retired (27 yrs) Veteran, female, and suffer from PTSD. I recently acquired a small ESA, and registered her. I made my reservation over the phone, and ensured the agent knew I would be traveling with an ESA animal. The agent assured me I would only need her registration documentation. When I went to board the plane, the gate agent asked for my registration, which I gave her. She then, loudly, asked what my “mental disability” was and insisted I have a specific letter from my mental health provider specifically stating my “mental disability” and that I was ok “mentally” to travel on a plane. She nearly yelled at me “anyone can go online and get this, it means nothing”. I had an “A” boarding number so the entire boarding process was held up, and all boarding passengers heard, while she got on the boarding area intercom, THE INTERCOM, and announced in the boarding area (directed to the boarding area desk agent) that she was sending me to the desk to pay for my dog because I did not have the “mental health professional letter stating what is wrong with her mentally”! She then stated my full name over THE INTERCOM! I can’t tell you how devastated I was, how humiliated I felt, and what the looks from the other passengers did to me. I could barely breathe. I paid the $95. I got on the plane. I completed the flight. I broke out in hives, and trembled and quietly cried the entire way. I feel nauseous now just typing this out. I’ll never again fly Southwest. The pet policy is ridiculous, discriminatory, a price gouge and in this instance, abusive and punishing. Perhaps there are individuals that try to take advantage of the ESA certification, but I’m not one of them. I was judged and publically humiliated seemingly on purpose. Never again, Southwest.
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