Southwest Airlines is about to change the zoo-like atmosphere they have become known for. Beginning in September, dogs and cats will be allowed on board but only if they are brought on as ’emotional support animals’. In addition, only one of those pets will be allowed on board and they need to either be in a carrier or on a leash at all times.
In order for these animals to be brought on board, the passenger must present a letter from a licensed medical health professional or a doctor. That letter needs to be provided on the day of departure.
In addition, there will be limitations placed on the types of trained service animals allowed in the cabins. At this time, only cats, dogs and miniature horses will be permitted on board. Some of those animals may be specifically trained to help people with various disabilities.
In recent years, people have become quite bold when bringing animals onto planes. For example, a woman tried to board a United Airlines flight in January with an ’emotional support Peacock’. Delta has also talked about people trying to fly with “comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more.”
A number of airlines introduced similar restrictions to what Southwest is adding. Those airlines included American Airlines, Delta, United and JetBlue.
The transportation department was called on by the airline industry to update guidelines for bringing animals on planes. The timeline for public comment closed in July.