4804203712 [email protected]

Southwest Airlines ESA Policy

Publish Date: November 19th, 2020; Author: Darren M. Jorgenson.

Southwest Airlines ESA Policy

Before you decide you are going to travel with your pet fellow, make sure to first research everything about southwest airline ESA policies.

Many people are suffering from mental disorders like anxiety, depression, sudden traumas, and need somebody by their side to get over these severe conditions. In all such situations, an ESA helps you in getting a better lifestyle and well-being.

Unlike other Airlines, Southwest Airlines Southwest does not require its own separate form. Southwest accepts ESA letters from licensed mental health professionals. 

 Here are Southwest Airline Emotional Support Animal policies that you need to know before packing your bags:

Southwest Airlines ESA Policy: Need to get an ESA letter First

According to the Southwest Airlines ESA policy, all you need to require an Emotional Support Animal Letter. Other than this, you will be responsible for the other documents such as veterinary health forms, vaccinated health records, permits for your travel destination.

An ESA Letter:

An ESA letter is a legal document certified by the Licensed mental health professional that provides access to the patients for traveling and rental housing with an Emotional Support Animal to get over their mental disabilities. 

Also Read: Dog At Work

Your ESA letter must include the following conditions:

  • Under Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM IV), if you suffer from a recognized emotional disability or mental disability, you can qualify to get for your ESA letter. The disability can be anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anything. 
  • The date on which your ESA letter gets issued by your mental health provider.
  • Needs to request valid air travel accommodation for you.

If you do not have a certified ESA letter, you will not be able to fly with your ESA. Get evaluated by our Licensed health professionals today with Fast ESA letter and learn How to Get An ESA Letter?

As mentioned above, Southwest policy does not require any of its additional forms, but you can fill out these forms mentioned below:

Looking to Apply for an ESA Letter for Your Pet

Get Started by following these Steps:

1. Start FIlling up the ESA Evaluation form with your details.

2. Get Evaluated by a Local ESA Doctor once the submission is complete.

3. Get Approved and Receive your Letter In Your Email.

Apply Now

Optional: Veterinary Health Form

It’s not essentially required to bring your veterinary health form as per Southwest Airlines. However, for further documentation, you may need to bring a veterinary health form as per your country. 

Optional: Copy of the Animal’s Current Shot Record 

Southwest airline ESA policy requires a current record of vaccinated pets before traveling with your ESA. 

Optional: Signed Testament to the Animal’s Behavior

You will only require this form in case your ESA got rejected by the airlines while an animal shows any aggressive behaviors. 

Southwest Airlines ESA Policy: Pet Fee for Non-ESAs

Southwest airlines ESA has some strict policies for non-ESA patients that you need to follow:

  • As per the Southwest airline ESA policy, it is mandatory to pay a charge of $95 per way should you choose to travel with your pet. 
  • You need to inform the airlines in advance to travel along for booking reservations with a pet via calling. 
  • Owners traveling in the aircraft cabin with pets are expected at all times to have their pets put in a suitable pet carrier.

Since Southwest Airlines ESA policy allows only six pets to travel per flight, so if you want to get your little dog on the flight, then remember that Southwest Airlines reserves pets on a first-come-first-served basis.

Emotional Support Animals that get a permit to travel with Southwest Airlines

Southwest airlines have allowed a restricted breed of companions to travel that is cat or dog. While traveling, you can only take a cat or dog as a companion with you. 

Breed Restrictions

Since September 17, 2018, a patient is restricted to take a cat or dog as an ESA. Also, if a cat or dog shows any form of aggressive behavior, then they are no more considered as an ESA and will not be allowed on a flight.

For an ESA, it’s necessary to remain in their carrier for the entire duration of the flight. If you’re traveling with a dog of a large breed, Southwest Airlines may not allow you to travel. Also, in case an ESA is not able to adjust in the space of a single-seat, a patient may require to buy an additional ticket or rebook their flight.

Type of ESAs breed that is Not Allowed to travel with Southwest Airlines

Southwest does not accept unusual or exotic animals. Therefore, the ESA you carry must not be the following:

  • Any exotic animal
  • Insects
  • Reptiles
  • Snakes
  • Sugar Gliders
  • Rabbits/Rodents
  • Hedgehogs
  • Wild cats

Southwest Airlines Pet Carrier Requirements!

Well, each airline has its own policies for traveling with ESAs Southwest Airlines also have some specific carrier requirements for pets.

Acceptable Carriers:

While traveling with a pet, the passenger will need to carry a pet carrier of a specific size. If a person does not have a pet carrier, then they can choose to purchase a pet carrier directly from Southwest airlines for $58.


  • 17 long x 9.5 high x 10 wide
  • Be 18.5 long x 8.5 high x 13.5 wide.
  • All types of carriers should fit easily under the passenger’s seat.
  • Carriers should be leakproof.

Restricted Carriers:

There is no such restricted pet carrier policy mentioned by Southwest airlines for a pet. 

Prepare your ESA for Flight 

While traveling with your pet, make sure that your ESA is as much stress-free as possible. Remember that an ESA is there for providing you with mental and emotional support rather than making it more worst. So, before traveling, you must teach your dog to behave properly. 


You must make sure that they:

  • Know the basic commands such as sit, stay, quiet.
  • Do not display any aggressive behaviors and does not growl or bark at other passengers. 
  • Can walk properly on a leash
  • Do not occupy a seat, exit seat, or block the aisle.
  • Are not allowed to travel on the aircraft if they are less than eight months. 

 Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and ESAs

 Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) is one of the biggest federal laws protecting ESA owners from getting discriminated against for their mental disability. 

Under this Act, a patient suffering from any mental, physical, or psychiatric health disability such as anxiety, depression, or trauma has a right to get accompanied by a service animal or emotional support animal while traveling by airline. 

Before traveling, a non- ESA passenger will require to inform the Southwest airline before 48 hours. However, a person who holds an ESA will not need to notify the airline about their ESA.

It is strongly recommended that they do so 24 hours before the date of departure. Also, Southwest Airlines suggests that you will suggest that you will be traveling with a help animal when you first book your ticket.

Traveling Internationally with an ESA letter

Traveling with Southwest Airlines is similar to that of domestic flight experience. If you want to travel internationally, you can go with your ESA anywhere with our services. Before traveling internationally with a Fast ESA letter, the passenger should inform you before 48 hours of traveling. Also, passengers should confirm the duration time of the flight. 


Ques 1: Does an ESA need to be in a carrier?
Ans: Yes, an ESA must be in a carrier so that the carrier can be put under the seat. The carrier must be kept near the lap of the passenger or on a leash on the aircraft.
Ques 2: What size dog can fly on Southwest?
Ans: Well, the estimated size of the dog should be medium and should adjust under the seat easily. An ESA must be carried inside a carrier with a maximum size of 18.5″ x 8.5″ x 13.5″ (47 cm x 22 cm x 34 cm). 
Ques 3: Do an emotional support animal fly free?
Ans:Yes, if you fulfill all the requirements of the airline, an Emotional Support Animal can fly for free. 
Ques 4: Can airlines deny emotional support animals?
Ans:In case your ESA behaves violently and seems to growl at others in that situation, your ESA must get denied by the Airlines. 

About Post Author

Darren M. Jorgensen has a fondness for all animals, though dogs especially, have a huge home in his heart. He enjoys quilting, making handcrafted soap and bodyworks and anything that produces practical products. Jorgensen lives with his own service dog who doubles as an Emotional Support Animal. He gets it.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.