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Southwest Airlines Banning Emotional Support Animals

Southwest And Other Airlines Testify At Safety Hearing On Capitol Hill
Scott Olson, Getty Images

In late December we got word from several news outlets that Alaska Airlines would be banning emotional-support animals. Alaska Airlines took the stance after the Department of Transportation ruled that airlines are only required to transport service dogs free of charge. People traveling with emotional support animals were able to get in on the free travel simply by stating they had an emotional support animal. Those days are over.

The Department of Transportation stated that service dogs that are “specially trained” are allowed to roam about the cabin and assist their handlers as needed. However, all animals that do not have the proper training need to follow the rules like the rest of the pets flying. Under a seat and in a carrier with a travel fee paid in full.

Southwest Airlines just jumped on the ban of emotional support pets getting the same treatment as the other traveling pets. Starting March 1st, emotional-support animals aren’t exempt from paying a traveling fee. Airlines are armed with the information that the Transportation Department relayed claiming airlines are no longer required to allow passengers to bring an animal on board for free by claiming it provides emotional support.

I guess I am the odd woman out not realizing that pets could fly for free if I just said that my dog Olive was an emotional support animal. Personally, I am okay with this decision. I have seen many animals with vests and several handlers claim that their pet is an emotional support animal when their pet clearly has had zero training. I remember once walking through the airport and there was an “emotional support” dog barking at other dogs walking through the airport. There is a reason I don’t travel with my dog, she would do the same. I don’t agree with people working the system.

What are your thoughts? Should all airlines join in the ban of emotional support animals?

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