Southwest Airlines ESA Travel Letter Fact Sheet

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By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: December 23, 2020

southwest airlines aircraftFor people with a mental illness or condition such as general anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, the stress around flying or traveling can be an absolute nightmare. That’s why CertaPet has created a fact sheet that outlines SouthWest Airline’s updated ESA policy!

If you have an emotional support animal and want to fly with this airline, make sure you check every point on this sheet. The new policy leaves no wiggle room for fraudsters OR people with the legitimate right to travel with an ESA.

**Please note, as of January 11, 2021, under new regulations passed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the allowance of Emotional Support Animals onboard flights may vary from airline to airline. Please contact your airline of choice for their most up-to-date policies on Emotional Support Animals.

Review and Get Ready to Fly with CertaPet’s Southwest Airlines ESA Travel Letter Fact Sheet!

ESA owners’ mental and/or emotional disabilities are so debilitating that they would rather stay at home than risk the sensory overload and interactions involved in taking a flight. Enter the Air Carrier Access Act. This law was aimed at helping and protecting people with disabilities to bring their Emotional Support Animal to accompany them and relieve the stress of getting on a plane.

Sadly this law also leads to a stream of people without disabilities taking advantage of the system to get a free ticket for their pets or exotic animals. Not to mention the scams people came up with to make an easy $ with fake ESA letters!

This is why many airlines, including Southwest Airlines, have been forced to update their policy on allowing people to travel with their ESAs.

southwest esa travel letter fact sheet

The fact sheet includes information about the documents the airline requires, the protocol for an ESA once it enters the cabin and the expected behavior of the animal (the same behavior rule falls under Southwest Pet Policy too!).

The airline is trying to make flights safer for ALL passengers, and make it very clear that if your ESA does not meet the requirements, they can be denied boarding.

They are also very clear about the fact that should you not have the correct documentation, your pet will need to pay its way to your destination! No more handouts to fraudsters!


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  • Just was flying SW last weekend and apparently a new rule is that you have to request preboard at the ticket counter at check in. I was told that your ticket has to have preboard on it if you need extra time to board the plane with your medical disability. I was also asked by ticket agent if my medical disability would require a special seat when I requested preboard.

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