The ban goes into effect on March 1

By Claudia Harmata
January 27, 2021 02:48 PM
Emotional Support Animal
Credit: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty

Southwest Airlines is the latest to ban emotional support animals (ESAs) from their flights.

On Monday, the airline announced that it would continue to allow passangers to bring trained service dogs with them in the cabin, but they will no longer accommodate emotional support pets. The ban goes into effect on March 1.

According to a release from Southwest, the decision comes after the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced new revisions to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The new revisions allow airlines to prohibit ESAs by treating all ESAs as pets instead.

"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," Steve Goldberg, the airline's senior vice president of operations and hospitality, said in a statement. "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."

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty

Along with the ESA change, passengers traveling with trained service dogs will be required to "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."

"With this revision, Southwest Airlines 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 release stated. "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."

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The airline also noted that although they will no longer accept emotional support animals, customers will still be permitted to travel with some animals as part of the airline's pets program — as long as they pay a fee and their pet meets "all applicable requirements regarding in-cabin stowage and species (dogs and cats only)."

emotional support animals
Dog on an airplane
| Credit: Getty

The DOT announced their revisions in December, after years of high-flying drama between ESAs and airlines, including peacocks trying to board planes and animal attacks.

Southwest is just the latest airline to embrace the DOT's changes. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines have all announced similar policies, per USA Today.