We recommend that Customers arrive at the airport no later than the recommended airport arrival time. Go to Suggested Airport Arrival Times.
If you are traveling with a power wheelchair, in the event that we need to prepare your wheelchair for stowage, we may ask that you relinquish your power wheelchair up to an hour in advance of departure. In this case, you will be transferred to an airport wheelchair until boarding begins.
If you are traveling in a group of ten or more Customers who use wheelchairs, please advise us in advance by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) at least 24 hours in advance so that we can ensure adequate staffing and room in the cargo compartment of the aircraft for the wheelchairs.
Upon arrival at the airport, please inform a Southwest Airlines Agent or Skycap at your first point of contact, either at the Skycap podium or the ticket counter, if you need an airport wheelchair and/or assistance within the airport.
Priority preboarding is available for those who have a specific seating need to accommodate their disability and/or need assistance in boarding the aircraft or stowing an assistive device. If a Customer has a disability and requires preboarding, the Customer should request a Preboarding Document from our Customer Service Agent at the departure gate. The Preboarding Document serves as notification to our Operations (Boarding) Agent that the Customer has a need to preboard. It's important to keep in mind that Customers who preboard may not occupy an exit seat. Customers with disabilities who have any other special needs related to boarding should speak with our Customer Service Agent at the departure gate.
Customers who need additional space to accommodate their disability may proactively purchase an additional seat to notify Southwest of their specific seating need so adequate seating onboard the aircraft can be ensured. Instructions for booking a second seat online can be found on our Customers of Size page. Customers may contact us for a refund of the cost of the additional seat after travel. If a Customer with a disability has concerns about the amount of space needed and does not wish to purchase an additional seat, the Customer should speak with the Customer Service Agent at the departure gate.
A small wheelchair that can fit down the aircraft aisle is available at every gate and will be used if you need assistance transferring from your wheelchair in to the aircraft seat. Each gate is equipped with a Passenger Transfer Kit (PTK), which contains a slide board and a transfer sling. The sling allows for two or three Employees to lift the Customer safely from his/her wheelchair into the small wheelchair and then into the aircraft seat.
For ease of transfer, the first two rows (at a minimum) on most of our aircraft are equipped with movable aisle armrests. Note: Our 737-800 Series aircraft do not have movable aisle armrests on the bulkhead (front) row of seats. However, all other rows on these aircraft have movable aisle armrests.
Our Employees are trained on assisting our Customers into and out of the aircraft seat; however, the Customer being transferred knows the best way for us to help. We encourage the Customer being assisted to direct the Employees in how best to perform the lift and transfer so everyone will be most comfortable, and so that we will have a successful transfer.
Jetbridges are not available in all Southwest cities. Customers traveling to, from, or through the following locations board and deplane the aircraft through the use of stairs: Burbank (BUR), Cabo/Los Cabos (SJD), Cancun (CUN), Nassau (NAS), and Punta Cana (PUJ). In most of these locations, a mechanical lift is available to assist Customers with disabilities who are unable or have difficulty climbing stairs. However, on some occasions, due to weather, lift availability in international locations, or other conditions that may exist, Customers may be assisted via a chair carried up the stairs by trained ground personnel.
Also, please note that in Cancun (CUN) and Punta Cana (PUJ) Customers may be required to travel between the terminal and the aircraft onboard buses. Buses will be used to transport Customers from the terminal to aircraft, where they will board via air stairs. Boarding the bus will occur at ground-level, and Customers will be dropped off at the base of the air stairs. At this point, Customers requiring assistance to board may be assisted via a chair carried up the stairs by trained ground personnel.
A Customer with a disability is subject to no more and no less security screening than any other member of the traveling public. If a Customer passes through the magnetometer (metal detector) and the alarm sounds, additional screening with a hand-wand is required. In cases where the hand-wand does not "clear" the Customer, a physical pat-down of the Customer will be performed. The Customer has the right to undergo the additional screening in the public screening area or may request that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Representative conduct a private screening.
Ebola Update: As always, Southwest’s highest priority is the Safety and Security of our Customers and Employees. We continue to monitor the circumstances and follow guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding Ebola. Currently, there are no related impacts to our operations.
Manual and Power Wheelchairs
Southwest will stow wheelchairs in the aircraft cabin as long as they can be stowed in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety guidelines. Each aircraft is equipped with a specially designed wheelchair storage compartment to allow in-cabin stowage of at least one standard-size adult collapsible wheelchair. The wheelchair compartment is located in the rear of the aircraft and is available for Customers' use on a first-come, first-served basis.
If the wheelchair will not safely fit in an approved cabin bin or stowage area, we will transport it in the cargo compartment at no additional charge. However, we suggest that all removable parts (i.e., cushions, arm or leg rests, and side guards) be stowed in an overhead bin or under a seat if the parts fit and meet all FAA safety requirements for onboard stowage. The Customer has the option to retrieve the checked wheelchair at the gate or baggage claim upon arrival at his or her destination.
If you are traveling with a power wheelchair, in the event that we need to prepare your wheelchair for stowage, we may ask that you relinquish your power wheelchair up to an hour in advance of departure. In that case, you will be transferred to an airport wheelchair until boarding begins. Power wheelchairs and scooters will be securely stowed in the cargo compartment of the aircraft. Southwest recommends that all removable parts of the wheelchair be stowed in the overhead bins.
Wet Cell (Spillable) Batteries
If your wheelchair/scooter is powered by a wet cell battery, the battery will be removed and placed in a protective battery box, as required by federal HAZMAT safety regulations. It would be most helpful for the Customer to label the battery cables with corresponding colored tape or provide detailed disconnection and reconnection directions so that the Agents at the destination city can quickly and easily reconnect the battery to the wheelchair. You may bring one "spare" wet cell battery for each battery needed to operate your wheelchair. Those batteries will also be packaged in a protective battery box.
Dry Cell (Non-spillable) Batteries
If your wheelchair/scooter is powered by a non-spillable battery, we will ensure the battery is secured and will not remove the battery. If the device does not have an effective means of preventing unintentional activation (key turned to “off” and removed, on/off switch in the “off” position, quick disconnection of the joystick, etc.), the battery must be disconnected and the battery terminals protected from short circuit. In these cases, if the Customer can provide disconnect directions or label the corresponding cables, our Agents can easily reconnect the battery and return the assistive device more quickly at the Customer's destination. We do not limit the number of "spare" nonspillable batteries a Customer may check in.
Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) Batteries
If your wheelchair/scooter is powered by a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, Southwest must be able to access the battery to determine that it is approved for transportation. The Li-ion battery must show no signs of any defects or damage. Your assistive device must be transported as checked baggage. If the Li-ion battery is securely attached and protected from short-circuit by being fully enclosed in the device’s battery housing, the battery may remain installed and there is no limit to battery size on these types of devices. If not, the battery must be removed and transported separately as checked baggage.
If your device is specifically designed to allow its battery to be easily removed (i.e. a collapsible scooter, etc.), there is a battery size limit. The battery must be removed, protected from short circuit, and carried onboard to be stowed in the cabin. The battery’s size in watt-hours must be displayed on the battery, or the battery should be labeled with its voltage and amp-hour (or milliamp-hour) ratings to allow for size calculation (see formula below) if needed. Any spare batteries must be transported as carryon baggage with the battery terminals protected to prevent short circuit. A single spare battery may be transported, as long as its size does not exceed 300 watt-hours. Two spare batteries may be carried provided that each battery is not over 160 watt-hours in size.
Some Li-ion batteries do not display the watt-hour rating on the battery label. The following formulas may be used to determine the watt-hours rating for your Lithium-ion battery:
If the battery lists the Amp-hour rating, use this formula:
Volts (V) x Amp-hours (Ah) = Watt-hours (Wh)
Example for a single battery:
10 volts multiplied by 24 Amp-hours = 240 watt-hours
The 240 watt-hours are below the 300 watt-hour limit for a single battery, so your battery would be allowed.
If the battery lists the Milliamp-hour rating, use this formula instead:
Volts (V) x Milliamp-hours (mAh) ÷ 1,000 = Watt-hours (Wh)
Example for a single battery:
10 volts multiplied by 24,000 Milliamp-hours ÷ 1,000 = 240 watt-hours
The 240 watt-hours is below the 300 watt-hour limit for a single battery, so your battery would be allowed.
You may find it helpful to print our Wheelchair/Scooter Information Form and bring it with you to the airport when presenting your assistive device to our Employees. The Wheelchair/Scooter Information Form is not required, but completing the form will serve as a useful guide to the Employees who will be handling your assistive device.
We recommend that Customers carry on all medication and assistive devices that can be stowed in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. If an assistive device is carried in a bag with no other personal items, the bag is not subject to our carryon limitations. If a Customer opts to check an assistive device or medication, it is important that he/she notify our Employees at the time the bag is checked that an assistive device/medication is within it.
FAA safety regulations require that restraint systems utilized to accommodate Customers with disabilities during taxi, takeoff, and/or landing be approved for aircraft use. If the Customer’s restraint system is a typical child car seat, it must bear the following information that indicates that it is approved for use on aircraft:
Also, the AmSafe Aviation CARES harness-type device has been approved for Customers weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. The device must have a label that indicates, “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14CFR 21.305(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only.”
If a Customer will need to use any other type of non-approved restraint system to accommodate his/her disability during taxi, takeoff, and/or landing, the device must be approved by the FAA prior to travel. Customers may file a petition for exemption with the FAA. Instructions for submitting the petition may be found by visiting the FAA’s web site. Please note that the petition should be filed at least 120 days before the proposed date of travel. If the petition is approved, the Customer will be required to present a copy of the approval letter upon arrival at the airport, and may be required to do so at any other point during travel.
Other Assistive Devices
Other assistive devices, such as walkers, canes, crutches, CPAP machines, etc., that can be stowed in compliance with FAA safety regulations, will be given priority onboard stowage, and will not be counted toward your one carryon plus one personal item limit. If the wheelchair compartment is not occupied by another Customer's wheelchair, other assistive devices may be stowed within it. While we recommend that a Customer carry on any assistive devices (including medications) that can be stowed safely in the cabin, these items can be checked if the Customer prefers. During the checkin process, it is important that the Customer inform a Customer Service Agent that an assistive device is being checked, especially if the assistive device is contained within the Customer's luggage.
If an assistive device cannot be stored safely in the cabin, we will transport it in the cargo compartment.
Please note that Southwest Airlines does not have electrical outlets onboard the aircraft for commercial product use.
Because it is nearly impossible for persons who have an allergy to peanut dust to avoid triggering a reaction if peanut dust is in the air, Southwest Airlines is unable to guarantee a peanut-free or allergen-free flight. We have procedures in place to assist our Customers with severe allergies to peanut dust and will make every attempt not to serve packaged peanuts on the aircraft when our Customers alert us of their allergy to peanut dust.
We ask Customers with peanut dust allergies making reservations over the phone to advise our Customer Representatives of the allergy at the time the reservation is made. If the reservation is made via a travel agent, the Customer should telephone 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) afterward to speak with a Customer Representative. If the reservation is made via southwest.com, the Customer may advise us of the allergy on the "Southwest Airlines Payment and Passenger Information" screen by clicking on the link to "Add/Edit Disability Assistance Options."
We suggest that Customers with peanut dust allergies book travel on early morning flights as our aircraft undergo a thorough cleaning only at the end of the day.
We ask the Customer with the allergy (or someone speaking on the Customer's behalf) to check in at the departure gate one hour prior to departure and speak with the Customer Service Agent (CSA) regarding the Customer's allergy. Please allow enough time to park, check luggage and/or receive your boarding pass, and to pass through the security checkpoint. Our CSA will provide the Customer with a Peanut Dust Allergy Document and ask him/her to present the document to the Flight Attendant upon boarding. If the Customer has a connection, the CSA will provide the Customer with two documents, one of which should be retained to present to the Flight Attendant on the connecting flight.
Our CSA will advise the Operations (Boarding) Agent so that service of packaged peanuts can be suspended for that flight. Our Operations Agent will notify the Provisioning and/or Ramp Supervisor to stock the aircraft with a sufficient supply of pretzels or alternate snacks. The Operations Agent will also notify the Flight Attendants of the Customer's final destination and advise them that we cannot serve packaged peanuts until the Customer deplanes.
As some of our other snack items may contain peanut particles, peanut oil, or have been packaged in a peanut facility, Customers who have allergic reactions to eating/ingesting peanuts should read the ingredients on any packaged snack before consumption. Of course, all Customers are welcome to bring their own snacks with them.
Southwest cannot prevent other Customers from bringing peanuts or products containing peanuts onboard our flights. In addition, Southwest cannot give assurances that remnants of peanuts and/or peanut dust/oil will not remain on the aircraft floor, seats, or tray tables from the flights earlier in the aircraft's routing.
In addition, Southwest Airlines cannot guarantee that a flight will be free of other allergens such as perfumes, lotions, cleaning solutions, etc.
Upon arrival at the airport please inform a Southwest Airlines Agent or Skycap at your first point of contact, either at the Skycap podium or ticket counter, if you need assistance within the airport. If assistance is needed during boarding or onboard the aircraft, please notify our Employees at the departure gate, and, if applicable, one of our Flight Attendants when you board the aircraft. When considering air travel as an option for an individual with a cognitive or development disability, please consider the possibility of flight delays, diversions, or any other flight irregularities. Although we will provide assistance to any Customer with a disability, we will not provide a personal escort to remain with the Customer for the duration of the irregularity. If a Customer requires personal or continuous assistance, he/she should travel with an attendant.
Services Not Provided
Customers who are deaf and hard of hearing may call our Teletypewriter (TTY) number, 1 (800) 533-1305, and speak with a Southwest Airlines Customer Representative 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our Customer Representatives can assist with making reservations and answering general questions. Additionally, we offer a video relay service at SWAVRS.TV, and there are TTY Phones located in each of the airports we serve.
Because it is sometimes difficult for our Employees to know when a Customer is deaf or hard of hearing, if the Customer identifies his/her needs to our Customer Service Agent at the departure gate and to our Flight Crew once onboard the aircraft, we can be sure to establish an acceptable means of communication. Upon such request, we will ensure that the Customer has prompt access to the same information provided to other passengers in the gate area and onboard the aircraft (e.g., boarding and baggage claim information, schedule changes, flight Safety information, etc.).
Upon arrival at the airport, please inform a Southwest Airlines Agent or Skycap at your first point of contact (either at the Skycap podium or ticket counter) if you need assistance within the airport. If assistance is needed during boarding or onboard the aircraft, please notify our Employees at the departure gate and, if applicable, one of our Flight Attendants when you board the aircraft.
At your request, we will be happy to assist our Customers who are blind or have low vision with flight connections, with identifying Inflight snacks, etc. Upon arrival at the airport, please inform a Southwest Airlines Agent or Skycap at your first point of contact, either at the Skycap podium or ticket counter, if you need assistance within the airport. If assistance is needed during boarding or onboard the aircraft, please notify our Employees at the departure gate and one of our Flight Attendants when you board the aircraft.
Each aircraft has Inflight Safety Briefing Cards available in Braille overlaid with large print. Ask a Flight Attendant once onboard the aircraft if you would like to review this briefing card.
We suggest that all medication be packed in carryon luggage. If a Customer's carryon must be checked because of space constraints, we suggest that the Customer remove the medication from the bag and keep it with him/her.
Southwest Airlines' aircraft are equipped with a first-aid kit, which contains common over-the-counter medications. Our Flight Attendants will offer the medication to a Customer if the need arises and will provide the medication once the Customer determines acceptability. While our Flight Attendants will assist the Customer as best they can, the Flight Attendants will not physically administer the medication themselves. Flight Attendants also will not administer a Customer's personal supply of medication. If this type of care is needed during the flight, the Customer may want to consider traveling with a ticketed attendant.
Needles/syringes used to inject medications are permitted past the security checkpoint as long as the Customer has in his/her possession the medication that requires the use of a needle/syringe.
Southwest Airlines welcomes trained assistance animals accompanying a Customer with a disability on all of our flights. Except when too large to be safely accommodated, a trained assistance animal will be transported in the aircraft cabin. In accordance with federal safety regulations, the animal must be positioned so as not to obstruct Customers' expeditious evacuation in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Trained assistance animals will be allowed to travel on flights to/from all domestic and international destinations with the exception of Jamaica. No animals will be allowed to travel to/from Jamaica on Southwest Airlines under any circumstances due to country-specific regulations.
Emotional Support Animals
Animals used for a Customer's emotional support are accepted in the cabin. Emotional support animals will be allowed to travel on flights to/from all domestic and international destinations with the exception of Jamaica. No animals will be allowed to travel to/from Jamaica on Southwest Airlines under any circumstances due to country-specific regulations. In order for a Customer to travel with an emotional support animal, the Customer must provide to a Southwest Airlines Employee current documentation (not more than one year old) on letterhead from a mental health professional or medical doctor who is treating the Customer's mental health-related disability stating:
Assistance and emotional support animals must be trained to behave in a public setting. Customers traveling with an assistance animal or an emotional support animal cannot sit in an emergency exit seat.
Printable instructions for Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal (PDF).
Southwest is not equipped to transport or provide medical oxygen or other hazardous materials and/or contained gas--either in the passenger cabin or as cargo or baggage. Any Customer who requires a constant supply of compressed or liquid medical oxygen cannot travel on Southwest Airlines.* If there is a question as to a Customer's ability to travel the duration of a flight without the use of medical oxygen, we may request documentation from a licensed physician to verify that the Customer can complete the flight safely and without the use of medical oxygen.
Liquid oxygen cannot be carried onboard our aircraft. If a liquid oxygen unit is empty (and contains a gauge or color indicator verifying the unit is empty), then the unit can be transported so long as the valve remains open.
*Southwest will accept for travel Customers needing supplemental oxygen who may be accommodated by using certain personal portable oxygen concentrators. See the next tab for more information on Portable Oxygen Concentrators.
While Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) devices may be brought onboard our flights in accordance with Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) No. 106, 14 CFR part 121, only the following POC models are approved for use during flight:
Conditions that must be met in order to use an approved POC (listed above) during flight:
Regardless of which option you choose, the physician's letter must state:
At the Airport
Onboard the Aircraft
Vendors that Rent Some or All of the Above Approved POCs:
Short-Term Rentals of all FAA-Approved Portable Oxygen Concentrators
- Liberty Medical (800)375-6060. Visit us at www.Liberty-O2.com. Southwest Customer discount, 15 years of travel oxygen experience.
- Oxygen To Go (866) 692-0040. Ask about our Southwest discount. Oxygen To Go agents and physicians are available at any time of day, every day of the year.
We offer Non-Passenger Escort (NPE) passes to people who are accompanying or meeting a Customer with a disability to/at the Customer's gate. NPE authorization should be requested from a Southwest Airlines Customer Service Agent at our ticket counter or Skycap podium. Please advise the Agent that you need to accompany/meet a Southwest Passenger to/at the gate to accommodate the Passenger's disability. You will need to present photo identification and a copy of the Southwest Customer's itinerary. We recommend reviewing our Suggested Airport Arrival Times page to determine how far in advance you should arrive at the airport terminal so that you have plenty of time to park, wait in line to receive a NPE pass, go through the security checkpoint, and get to the gate.
Southwest Airlines policies and procedures are developed in accordance with 14 CFR Part 382, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel. Every airport is staffed with trained Complaints Resolution Officials (CROs) who have received training and are knowledgeable of the regulations ensuring accessible travel for Customers with disabilities. You have the right to request to speak with a CRO, and we will promptly provide a CRO either in person or over the telephone.
14 CFR Part 382, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel
You may obtain a copy of this Part in an accessible format from the Department of Transportation by any of the following means:
Download Part 382 in pdf format.