This past week I had a flight reservation on Southwest and had made this reservation months before which included an ESA registered pet. (which happened to be my small parrot.) I have flown Southwest for as long as I can remember and I’ve been flying Southwest with this ESA registered animal for the last three years. In fact, if it were not for me informing staff ahead of time that I have this animal, no one would ever know he had been on the plane because he never makes a peep or comes out of his carrier. I was completely unaware of the policy change as I had checked to ensure I still had him attached to my reservation the weekend prior to my scheduled flight and there was no mention of this change. I made the long trek to the airport with luggage in tow plus my bird in his carrier only to be denied the ability to board our flight due to a change that occurred only days before. The agent told me it says online dogs and cats only. He wasn’t very sympathetic or helpful. While I think this change is ridiculous, as there has been few incidents involving a parrot on a flight, but there have been several with dogs, and yet you’ve restricted the ESA guidelines to only permit dogs and cats… What really upsets me about this whole Incident was the failure to notify me. It seems to me if you’re going to make a policy change you should notify those customers with existing reservations for who this change will affect. How hard would it have been to send an email letting me know of this change in advance to my arrival at the airport.?!?! I’ve spoken to many people about this incident and all were dismayed and disgusted with the way the situation presented itself and how rudely I was turned away and told by the ticketing agent that I could’ve just read the policy online and it was my responsibility to know this regardless of past travel with my ESA pet. Customer service is your responsibility. If somebody has been flying your airline with an ESA pet with no issue for years, how would they know that there was a change in policy so suddenly? Why would review the online policy before their flight when they have been flying with ESA pet for years and even in the last month?!?! I’m beyond disappointed, I’m rather disturbed with the direction that Southwest is heading. I am not the only person who has had to deal with some very abrupt customer service lately, and aside from being cheaper than other airlines and allowing free baggage, you’re starting to lose your edge on being the best choice. I would appreciate an apology for the extreme Inconvenience and extra travel cost that this lack of notification caused me.
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