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Southwest Airlines PSD Policy Guide.

Posted on July 17, 2023 by Patricia Thompson
Southwest Airlines ensures a safe and comfortable journey for all passengers, including those who require the assistance of a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD). However, is this information alone sufficient for a traveler with a PSD? Perhaps not.

We compiled a useful guide to Southwest Airlines’ service animal policy, offering valuable insights and answering common questions. We’ll also cover the documentation and requirements needed for traveling with them and the accommodations provided by the airline.

Southwest Airlines PSD Policy Guide

What Are Southwest’s Requirements For Psychiatric Service Dogs?

The requirements for PSD by Southwest Airlines are minimum. You just primarily need a couple of documents and your dog’s calm behavior. Let’s see the requirements in more detail.
Passengers traveling with a psychiatric service dog must provide a PSD letter stating that the dog is trained to assist with a psychiatric disability. You must complete the DOT (Department of Transportation) Service Animal Air Transportation Form and present it at the ticket counter or gate on the day of departure.
Behavioral Standards:
Psychiatric service dogs must behave appropriately in public. They should be under the control of their handler and not display aggressive behavior.
Health and Vaccination:
Psychiatric service dogs must be in good health and have all necessary vaccinations, such as rabbis vaccination.
Leash and Containment:
Psychiatric service dogs must be leashed or harnessed in the airport and during the flight. It will ensure the safety and comfort of other passengers.

Sitting Rules For Psychiatric Service Dogs in Southwest Airlines.

Per federal safety regulations, you must follow sitting rules when traveling with a PSD on Southwest Airlines.

  • You can’t sit in an emergency exit seat.
  • If using a carrier, it must be placed under the seat during takeoff and landing.
  • PSD must be under two to sit on their handler’s lap. If not, it must be positioned on the plane floor.
  • Your PSD can not block any exits or exit paths
  • Your PSD can not occupy a separate seat
  • Your PSD can not Extend into the aircraft aisle.

Safety And Security Considerations When Traveling With A PSD.

Traveling with a Psychiatric Service Dog through Southwest Airlines requires careful consideration of safety and security to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey. A PSD must always be harnessed and leashed. They must also be well-groomed and free from odors. A PSD must stay under your control and stay calm all the time. They must not threaten others on the aircraft.
An animal that directly threatens the health or safety of others disrupts will be denied boarding. Disruptive behavior includes:
Aggression, including growling, biting, or lunging toward others, is considered highly disruptive and poses a safety risk.
Excessive Barking:
Consistent or loud barking that disturbs other passengers, creates a nuisance, or causes excessive noise can be disruptive.
Jumping or Leaping:
Dogs that jump on people or furniture or display excessive excitement by leaping around can create a disturbance. It can potentially cause injury to themselves or others.
Running or Roaming:
Allowing your dog to roam freely is disruptive and can interfere with the safety and comfort of other passengers.
Destructive Behavior:
Dogs that chew on objects or scratch surfaces can cause damage to the aircraft or other passengers’ belongings.
Failure to Follow Commands:
A service dog should obey and respond to the handler’s commands. Failure to comply or ignoring commands can indicate a lack of control and may be considered disruptive.
Urinating Indoors:
A psychiatric service animal should be house-trained to avoid urinating indoors, including inside the airport or aircraft.

Service Animal Relief Areas By Southwest Airlines.

The airline claims service animal relief areas are available at operational airports. These dedicated areas provide a convenient and comfortable space for service animals, including Psychiatric Service Dogs.

These relief areas are strategically located within the airport premises and equipped with amenities to service animals’ needs. These facilities are kept clean to ensure a hygienic environment for the animals and their handlers.

Can Service Animals Fly In Cargo In Southwest Airlines?

No, service animals will not be allowed in cargo. Southwest Airlines follows the U.S. Department of Transportation’s regulations, which state that service animals must be allowed to accompany passengers in the cabin. This ensures that passenger has their service animals with them during the flight, providing necessary assistance and support.

The Cost Of Traveling With A Psychiatric Service Dog In Southwest Airlines.

Southwest Airlines does not charge a fee for traveling with a service animal. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulations, service animals must be allowed to fly without additional charges.

Can A Southwest Airline Deny Boarding To Your Service Dog?

Yes. Southwest can refuse service animals under certain circumstances. These include if the traveler does not have accurate DOT service animal forms. They may also refuse your dog if it is not behaving properly.

This ensures a safe and comfortable traveling experience for all onboard passengers. If a service animal displays aggressive behavior or poses a threat to others that the handler cannot effectively manage, Southwest Airlines may refuse your traveling with the service animal.

What is the policy on damages caused by service animals at Southwest Airlines?

While service animals are generally well-trained, accidents or unforeseen incidents can occur. If a service animal causes damage to the aircraft or other passengers’ property, Southwest Airlines may hold the service animal handler responsible for the repair cost. Service animal handlers must ensure that their animals are well-behaved, adequately trained, and always under control.

Posted in: Airline Guide

About the Author

Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson is a highly skilled clinical psychologist with over five years of expertise in the field. She possesses extensive knowledge and experience in using clinical guidance and providing recommendations for emotional support animals (ESAs) as a form of treatment for mental illness. Patricia's profound understanding of the therapeutic benefits of ESAs enables her to offer valuable insights and practical advice to individuals seeking emotional support. In addition to her clinical practice, Patricia also writes for Fast ESA Letter, sharing her expertise and advocating for the importance of ESAs in mental health care.


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