Southwest Airlines Bans Exotic Emotional Support Animals

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Southwest Airlines Bans Exotic Emotional Support Animals

Finally, airlines are starting to crack down on individuals taking advantage of ESA laws.  Options are getting limited for travelers looking to fly with exotic emotional support animals.  Southwest Airlines is the latest carrier to restrict the creatures allowed for emotional support on planes.

The new rules kick in Sept. 17 and mean Southwest passengers can no longer bring along emotional support animals that aren’t dogs or cats, which must be on a leash or in a carrier, and limited to one per customer. Those traveling with an emotional support animal also need to bring along a current ESA letter from a doctor or licensed mental health professional, Southwest said.

In addition, Southwest is restricting allowable trained service animals to dogs, cats and miniature horses. Any animals engaging in disruptive behavior like growling or urinating in the gate area may be denied boarding.

The carrier’s announcement follows similar moves by airlines including United, JetBlue, American and Delta, all of which have cracked down on letting creatures like snakes, spiders or peacocks on planes.

United’s policy on comfort animals changed in March after an incident involving an emotional support peacock, which a passenger attempted to take on a cross-country flight in January. Upon toughening its requirements in the same month, Delta reported an 84 percent hike in animal incidents since 2016, including the mauling of a passenger by a 50-pound dog on a flight from Atlanta to San Diego last year.

U.S. airlines flew 751,000 emotional support animals last year,

2 Replies to “Southwest Airlines Bans Exotic Emotional Support Animals”

  1. It really pains to learn that several Airlines, including Southwest Airlines, have stopped boarding some ESAs that are exotic. After all, it’s a matter of the mental health of a person who is already distressed. When a reputed mental health physician like Steady Care Medical, recommends that a specific pet, be it an exotic bird, is important for recovery, Airlines should not doubt a physician.

  2. Yes totally. I also agree that some people are misusing this noble idea and actually doesnt require any esa. And because of them the people who actually need it have to suffer. I myself am a patient to anxiety so understand the situation of the people who are affected due to this. Hope this changes.

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