Southwest Airlines Pet Policy

Southwest Airlines Pet Policy

Flying with Southwest Airlines is like a walk in the park for pet owners. Not only do they offer exceptional customer service for humans, but they also know how to treat your pets right! Southwest Airlines pet policy is designed with your pet’s comfort and safety in mind, making them the perfect choice for your next adventure together.

In this article, we’ll unleash all the essential details, tips, and tricks to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey for both you and your four-legged friend.

General Information About Southwest Airlines Pet Policy

As per Southwest Airlines pet policy, passengers must meet the following requirements – 

  • Southwest Airlines welcomes small domestic cats and dogs to accompany you in-cabin during your flight.
  • Pets must be vaccinated and placed in an appropriate carrier.

Eligible Pets 

  • In-cabin pet travel is not permitted on international flights or any itinerary involving international travel.

Pet Travel Capacity and Requirements

  • Pet acceptance is on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limit of six (6) pets per flight.
  • Each paying Passenger can bring one pet carrier on the same flight.

Check-In Process for Pets

  • Pets must be checked in at the airport ticket counter before the flight.
  • Boarding passes can be secured online, at curbside check-in, at airport kiosks, or at the ticket counter.

Disruptive Behavior and Boarding

  • Pets exhibiting disruptive behavior, such as excessive whining, biting, or urinating, may be denied boarding.

Requirements for Traveling to Puerto Rico

  • Passengers traveling to Puerto Rico with pets may need to meet specific requirements.

Traveling to Hawaii with Pets

  • Check Southwest Airlines’ Help Center for rules and regulations related to pet travel to Hawaii.
  • Hawaii-bound adventures await you and your furry friend.

Carrying Cremated Pet Remains

  • Southwest Airlines allows customers to carry cremated pet remains as carry-on items.
  • TSA inspection is required at the security checkpoint, and specific containers are recommended.

Pet Reservation and Payment Guidelines

Southwest Pet Fee

  • Each pet traveling with Southwest Airlines requires a Pet Fare of $95 for each leg of the journey.
  • Pet Fares are refundable, ensuring flexibility for pet owners in case of Southwest flight cancellations or flight changes request.

Refund Procedure

  • If you cancel your reservation and your pet doesn’t travel or if your flight is canceled, you can request a refund for the Pet Fare.
  • Reach out to Southwest Airlines Customer Service. Passengers can also visit in person at the airport ticket counter to process the refund.

Reservations for U.S. Domestic Flights

  • For domestic flights within the United States, make pet reservations in advance by calling 1-800-435-9792.
  • On the day of travel, bring your pet in an approved carrier to the airport and proceed to the ticket counter for check-in and Pet Fare payment.

Pet Travel on International Flights

  • Pets are not allowed to travel in-cabin on international flights or any itinerary involving international travel.
  • Be aware of this restriction when planning your journey with your furry friend.

Southwest Airlines Branded Pet Carriers and Requirements

Official Southwest Airlines Pet Carrier

  • At any Southwest Airport Ticket Counter or online, you may purchase the Southwest Airlines-approved pet carrier. The price is $58 USD per carrier and is inclusive of all taxes. 
  • Please note that the pet carriers are non-refundable.

Acceptable Pet Carriers

  • The Southwest Airlines Pet Carrier with dimensions of 17” long x 9.5” high x 10” wide is accepted.
  • Other pet carriers are also allowed as long as they don’t exceed 18.5″ long by 8.5″ high by 13.5″ width.
  • Soft-sided and hard-sided carriers designed specifically for pets are acceptable.
  • All carriers must be airtight and leak-proof.

Pet Carrier Requirements

  • Each ticketed Passenger is allowed only one pet carrier.
  • A carrier may contain either 2 cats or two 2 dogs, but they must be of the same species per carrier.
  • The pet must be entirely inside the carrier and be able to stand up and move comfortably.
  • Pets must remain secured in their carriers throughout the gate area, boarding, deplaning, and the entire flight duration to comply with FAA regulations.
  • Failure to follow this requirement may result in the denial of pet transportation on Southwest Airlines.

Pet Carriers and Carry-On Regulations

  • Pet carriers can be either a carry-on or a personal item.
  • Boarding with a pet carrier, a regular-sized carry-on bag, and a personal item simultaneously is not allowed.
  • Ensure that the pet carrier conforms to all carry-on baggage regulations for a smooth journey.

Southwest Pet Travel Restrictions

As per Southwest Airlines pet policy, certain restrictions may apply – 

  • Southwest Airlines requires that all pets (cats or dogs) travel with a Passenger. 
  • Unaccompanied pet travel is not permitted.
  • Pets are not allowed to travel in-cabin on international flights or any itinerary involving international travel.
  • Passengers traveling with a pet cannot occupy exit rows or seats with no forward under-seat stowage.
  • Southwest Airlines exclusively carries pets in the cabin; pets are not permitted as checked baggage.
  • Each scheduled flight allows a maximum of six (6) pet carriers.
  • Cats and dogs must be at least eight (8) weeks old to be eligible for travel.
  • Pets must be harmless, non-disruptive, and odorless, requiring no attention during the flight.
  • Cats and dogs must remain inside their carriers (including head and tail) throughout the entire flight.
  • A pet cannot share a carrier with a trained service animal.
  • If a passenger misses a flight as a result of bringing their pet to an outdoor relief area, Southwest Airlines will not be held liable.
  • Flight departures will not be delayed for this purpose.
  • In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks may not be available for cats or dogs.
  • Southwest Airlines disclaims all responsibility for the health and safety of any dogs brought on board as carry-on luggage.

Traveling with Trained Service Animals: Guidelines and Requirements

Trained service animals are individually taught to assist individuals with physical and/or mental disabilities. Only dogs are permitted as trained service animals during flights.

Reserving Travel with Trained Service Animals

Passengers must notify the airline beforehand about their intention to travel with a trained service animal. For new reservations, they can add this information on the Passenger & Payment Info page. 

Alternatively, for existing bookings, the details can be added through the Manage Reservations section.

Documentation for Trained Service Animals

Passengers are required to present a completed Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation form on the day of travel. This form should be dated after the ticket purchase date. 

Notably, any service animal vests, IDs, or registrations alone are insufficient to confirm an animal’s status as a trained service animal.

Airport Check-in

Passengers who are traveling with trained assistance animals must check in at the ticket counter or with the gate agent and complete the necessary paperwork. 

Airlines are obliged to ascertain both the passenger’s disability and the animal’s training for disability-related tasks.

Passengers must arrive with trained service animals at the airport at least 2 hours before departure. 

Safety and Security Guidelines

Service animals must remain harnessed, leashed, or tethered to their owners throughout the journey. Additionally, they must be well-behaved and under control, without posing any threat to others. Disruptive behavior, such as excessive barking or aggression, may result in denial of boarding.

Rules for Traveling with Trained Service Animals

There are restrictions on sitting in emergency exit seats, proper stowing of carriers, and positioning of animals during the flight.

Service Animal Relief Areas

Service animal relief areas are provided at all locations served by the airline.

Flying with Law Enforcement or Search-and-Rescue Dogs

Fully trained law enforcement and search-and-rescue dogs can travel with their handlers free of charge. 

However, specific documentation must be presented to the Southwest Customer Service Agent at the airport. 

These dogs must be positioned to avoid obstructing passenger exits in case of an emergency and are not allowed in emergency exit rows.

Security Procedures for Traveling with Pets

Below is the overview of the security procedure – 

Pet Screening at Security Checkpoint

  • During the security screening process, passengers traveling with pets will be requested to hold their pets and walk through the screening device.
  • Simultaneously, the pet carrier will undergo an X-ray inspection.

Pet Carrier Inspection

  • All pet carriers are subject to thorough searches by various security authorities, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and airport personnel.
  • Airline personnel may also conduct inspections of pet carriers.

Southwest Airlines pet policy is like a treat for your pets and peace of mind for you. Traveling with your furry friend can create unforgettable memories and strengthen your bond like never before. Whether you’re exploring new territories or visiting familiar places, having your pet by your side can make the journey even more special.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the weight and size limits for pet carriers?

Southwest Airlines requires that pet carriers should not exceed 18.5″ long x 8.5″ high x 13.5″ wide. Your pet should be able to stand, move, and turn around comfortably inside the carrier.

Can I travel with more than one pet?

Unfortunately, only one pet per passenger is allowed on Southwest Airlines. If you have multiple pets, you’ll need to make separate arrangements for each of them.

Are there any breed restrictions for flying with pets?

Southwest Airlines does not have breed restrictions for traveling with pets. All small dogs and cats are welcome as long as they meet the airline’s requirements.

How far in advance should I book a flight for my pet?

It’s best to book your pet’s flight as soon as you finalize your travel plans. In-cabin space for pets is limited, so early booking ensures a spot for your furry companion.

Can I take my pet out of the carrier during the flight?

For safety reasons, pets must remain inside their carriers throughout the flight. However, you can take them out for a quick cuddle or a bathroom break when you’re on the ground and in designated pet relief areas.

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