Flying with trained service animals
A fully trained service animal is individually trained to perform tasks or work for a person with a physical and/or mental disability. Dogs are the only trained service animals we accept onboard.
Customers can notify us in advance if they will be traveling with a trained service animal. When booking a new reservation:
- On the Passenger & Payment Info page, click the Special Assistance link.
- Select relevant options.
- Scroll down to complete your reservation.
If a reservation has already been created, you can add your trained service animal information following these steps:
- From any page on Southwest.com®, click FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR | VACATIONS.
- Under Flight, select Manage Reservations.
- Input the requested information—confirmation number, first name, last name—and click Search.
- Under the Passenger’s name, click the Special Assistance link.
- Select relevant options.
- Click Update Information.
Present a completed Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation form at the ticket counter or gate on your day of travel. It should be dated on or after the date you purchased your ticket. If it’s incomplete or missing, the animal may be denied transport. A service animal vest, harness, ID card, or registration will not be accepted in place of the form as the sole indication an animal is a trained service animal.
If an animal does not meet the qualifications to travel as a trained service animal (e.g., if it’s a therapy animal), it may qualify to travel as a pet for a fee. See our Pet Policy for details.
You’re responsible for researching and complying with the animal travel and acceptance laws, requirements, and/or procedures of each location on your itinerary. See more information for travel to/from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or international locations.
If you’re traveling with a trained service animal, you must check in with a Ticket Counter or Gate Agent and present the required form. To accept an animal as a trained service animal, airlines must determine both that the Customer seeking travel is an individual with a disability and that the animal is trained to perform a task(s) or work related to the disability.
Our Employees may ask fact-finding questions to determine whether an animal is a trained service animal or eligible to be accepted as a pet. For example, we may ask whether the animal is required to accompany you because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. You may be asked about the nature of the animal at different points throughout the journey.
Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or otherwise tethered to you at all times. They must also be well-groomed, free from odors, etc., and trained to behave and must stay under your control. An animal that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, disrupts cabin service, or engages in disruptive behavior will be denied boarding. Disruptive behavior includes (but is not limited to):
- Excessive whining or barking
- Growling, biting, lunging, scratching
- Urinating or defecating in the cabin or gate area
In accordance with federal safety regulations, you must follow these rules when traveling with a trained service animal:
- You can’t sit in an emergency exit seat.
- If using a carrier, it must be stowed under the seat in front of you for taxi, takeoff, and landing.
- An animal no larger than a child under the age of two may sit on your lap, otherwise it must be positioned on the plane floor.
Animals must not:
- Block any exits or exit paths
- Extend into the aircraft aisle
- Occupy an aircraft seat
- Occupy a tray table
- Encroach upon a neighboring seat
Service animal relief areas are available at each of the locations we serve. Just ask—we’ll show you the way.
We accept fully trained law enforcement dogs and search-and-rescue dogs for transportation, without charge, when accompanied by their respective handlers on official business. If you’re traveling with a law enforcement or search-and-rescue dog, you must present a copy of the animal’s certification to a government official at the airport.
In accordance with federal safety regulations, the dog(s) must be positioned so as not to obstruct Customers’ exit in the unlikely event of an emergency. Law enforcement and search-and-rescue dogs may not occupy a seat or sit in an emergency exit row.