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Southwest Airlines Emotional Support Animal Policy

Documentation Required:

Must be a letter on letterhead of the licensed mental health professional or medical doctor who is treating the passenger. The letter must include the 4 following items:

  • The mental or emotional disability of the passenger is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  • Passenger needs the emotional support animal to travel and/or for an activity at the passenger’s destination.
  • The mental health professional or medical doctor providing the assessment is licensed and the passenger is under his or her professional care.
  • “The date and type of mental health professional’s or medical doctor’s license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued.”

Advanced Notice & Document Submission:

  • It is encouraged to add your Emotional Support Animal to your reservation in advance
  • Required documentation must be provided to a Southwest employee at the ticket counter or gate. 
    • Once documentation has been verified, an updated boarding pass will be provided.  
  • Must keep all original documentation throughout the entirety of your journey.

Animal Guidelines:

Airline staff will visually verify your animal at the airport. 

  • Number of animals
    • Each passenger is limited to one emotional support animal.
  • Animal Type
    • Acceptable emotional support animals are cats or dogs
  • Breeds not accepted
    • No restrictions
  • Size
    • The size of the animal must not exceed the personal foot space of the passenger’s seat and may not extend into the aisle. However, if your animal is too large you may purchase an additional seat to guarantee your travel.
  • Age
    • No animal age restrictions

Guidelines for Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal:

  • Emotional support animals travel for free.
  • Animals must be clean, obedient, and in good health.
  • Support Animals must be under supervision by the owner and on a leash at all times or in a carrier.
  • All animals must remain on the floor, under the seat or in the lap if smaller than a 2 year old child.
  • Animal is never allowed to occupy a seat. 
  • Passengers with an Emotional Support Animal can not be seated in an exit row or obstruct an aisle.

Animal Behavior:

Southwest Airlines reserves the right to deny boarding if your Emotional Support Animal engages in any of the following disruptive behaviors:

  • Aggressive behaviors such as biting, growling or lunging
  • Excessive barking or whining
  • Scratching
  • Relieving themselves in the cabin or gate area
  • Occupying a seat or seat-back tray table
  • Eating off seat-back tray tables 

Destinations with Restrictions:

It is highly recommended that when you travel with an emotional support animal outside the United States, that you contact the appropriate consulate or embassy to verify that you have all required documentation to enter that country at least 4 weeks in advance.

Airline Contacts:

For questions, contact 800.435.9792