Southwest Airlines is banning emotional-support animals

Southwest Airlines is joining other major U.S. carriers in banning emotional-support animals on board flights.

The airline announced on Monday that starting March 1, 2021, only trained service dogs will be allowed to travel on Southwest Airlines flights. The dogs must be trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

No other species will be accepted as a trained service animal, the announcement said.

"We applaud the Department of Transportation's (DOT) 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," said Steve Goldberg, Senior Vice President of Operations and Hospitality.

Customers flying with a trained service dog will be required to present a complete and accurate DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form at the gate or ticket counter on the day of their flight. The form is available on Southwest's website and at airport locations.

The option to travel with other animals still exists, however. Southwest has an existing pets program, through which dogs and cats who meet in-cabin stowage requirements can travel on flights for an extra charge.

Customers who hold existing reservations for travel with unaccepted animals after Feb. 28, 2021 can contact Southwest for more information and assistance.

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