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 Southwest.com.
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As of August 1, Southwest Airlines will no longer serve peanuts onboard and will instead serve pretzels on all flights. This decision wasn’t made lightly, but in the interest of providing the best Hospitality and a welcoming and safe onboard environment for Customers with peanut or peanut-dust allergies, we felt it was the right thing to do.
Although peanuts are very much a part of our Company’s heritage and have always been part of Southwest Airlines’ identity, it became clear after careful evaluation that the risks of serving peanuts outweigh the rewards. We hope that Customers who will miss our peanuts will enjoy our free pretzels and wonderful selection of snacks on longer flights.
Of course we’ll always be NUTS about Southwest and our Company will continue to honor the significant role that our peanuts played in our history, but at the end of the day, we’re most proud of our People and their Hospitality that sets us apart.
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Southwest has a history of stimulating new markets by offering low-fare competition; unfortunately, stimulating sufficient demand in some of our Cuba city-pairs has been very challenging, primarily due to the ongoing prohibition in U.S. law on tourism to Cuba for American citizens.
Though Cuba was a totally unexplored commercial air service market from the U.S. during the 46+ years Southwest has been operating, we’ve been looking hard at the data, reviewing and analyzing our performance in the three Cuba markets we have been serving over many months. Today, we are announcing that we will cease operations in both Varadero (VRA) and Santa Clara (SNU) at the conclusion of the summer travel season, with the final flights operating on the U.S. holiday that wraps-up Labor Day weekend.
So many Southwest Employees worked hard to put Cuba on our map and I want to thank each of them for a Herculean effort to open all three Cuba cities last year and to serve well our Customers traveling aboard those flights from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Tampa International Airport.
We still are seeking additional service to Havana and have a pending application with the U.S. Department of Transportation for an additional daily roundtrip between Ft. Lauderdale and Havana, which would bring Southwest to four roundtrips daily between Florida and the Cuban capital.
We remain committed to serving travelers who choose the value that only Southwest’s Cuba service will continue to offer our Customers traveling to and from Havana.
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