Southwest Airlines adds limitations on service animals

Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV) has announced updates to its policies for trained service and emotional support animals, the company said.

The changes are designed to provide clearer guidance to customers traveling with service animals and will go into effect on Monday, September 17.

To create these policy changes, Southwest reviewed the recent enforcement guidance issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT), evaluated feedback from Customers and Employees, and spoke with numerous advocacy groups that represent Customers with disabilities who travel with service animals. Based upon the guidance received, Southwest will enact the following changes on September 17:

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)will be limited to only dogs and cats, will be limited to one per Customer, ESAs must remain in a carrier or be on a leash at all times.

Customers traveling with ESAs will still need to present a complete, current letter from a medical doctor or licensed mental health professional on the day of departure.

In its 48th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. has 57,000 employees serving a customer base of 120 million passengers annually. During peak travel seasons, Southwest operates more than 4,000 weekday departures among a network of 99 destinations in the United States and 10 additional countries.