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Customers with Disabilities

Advance notice of disability

Customers with disabilities are not required to provide advance notice of the need for assistance; however, doing so helps us better prepare for the number of Customers who will need our help.

We give Customers the opportunity to proactively notify Southwest Airlines of any specific disability-related needs during and after booking on Southwest.com. When booking a new reservation, Customers may use the “Special Assistance” link on the Enter Traveler Info page to indicate that he/she requires assistance. When booking online, Customers may notice that there is a link (identified with a question mark) that directs the user to the details of our policies for assisting Passengers with disabilities. After the Customer has selected his/her option(s), the Customer should scroll down and complete the booking process.

If a reservation has already been created, simply click on the “FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR” link located on the top of our home page. Then, select “Manage Reservations” from the “Flights” column, input the required information, and select “Search.” From that page, click on the "Special Assistance" link under the Passenger name. Once a Customer has added his/her option(s), the Customer should click “Update Information” and the information will be saved to the Customer’s reservation.

Customers may also advise us of any disability-related travel needs at the time of booking by telephone or, if a reservation has already been made, by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) prior to travel.

We recommend that Customers arrive at the airport no later than the recommended airport arrival time. If traveling with a power wheelchair, in the event that we need to prepare the wheelchair for stowage, we may ask that Customers relinquish his/her power wheelchair up to an hour in advance of departure. In this case, the Customer will be transferred to an airport wheelchair until boarding begins.

If traveling in a group of 10 or more Customers who use wheelchairs, please advise us at least 24 hours in advance by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) so that we can ensure adequate staffing and room in the cargo compartment of the aircraft for the wheelchairs.

Assistance in the airport and with boarding

Advance notice

Customers are not required to provide advance notice of the need for assistance; however, doing so helps us better prepare for the number of Customers who will need our help. Because we have no means to identify Customers who require assistance on sight, Customers who have requested such assistance must identify themselves as needing our help upon arrival to the airport, at any connection points, and upon arrival to their destination.

When booking a new reservation, Customers may use the “Add/Edit Disability Options” (situated on the Enter Traveler Info page) to indicate that they require assistance. When booking online, Customers may notice that there is a link (identified with a question mark) that directs the user to the details of our policies for assisting Passengers with disabilities. After the Customer has selected his/her option(s), the Customer should click “Continue” and complete the booking process.

If a reservation has already been created, simply click on the “FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR” link located on the top of our home page.  Then, select “Manage Reservations” from the “Flights” column, input the required information, and select “Continue.” From that page, click on the "Add/Edit” Disability Options link. Once a Customer has added his/her option(s), the Customer should click “Continue” and the information will be saved to the Customer’s reservation.

Customers may also advise us of any disability-related travel needs at the time of booking by telephone or, if a reservation has already been made, by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA prior to travel.

 

Wheelchair assistance

Wheelchair assistance is available from the airport curb to/from gates and between gates for connecting flights. Note: Because we have no means to identify Customers who require assistance on sight, Customers who have requested assistance must identify themselves as needing our help upon arrival to the airport, at any connection points, and upon arrival to their destination.

 

Curbside assistance

Curbside check in is not available at all airports or during all hours of operation. If no uniformed Southwest Airlines Employees or Skycaps are positioned at the curb when a Customer arrives to the airport, the Customer or someone acting on the Customer’s behalf must enter the terminal to request assistance for the Customer.

 

Escort assistance

Escort assistance is available from the airport curb to/from gates and between gates for connecting flights. Additional information is available regarding our accommodation of Customers who are blind or have low vision and Customers who have cognitive disabilities.

 

Boarding (lift/transfer) assistance

We encourage the Customer being assisted to direct the Employees in how best to perform the lift and transfer. A small wheelchair that can fit down the aircraft aisle is available at every gate and will be used if assistance is needed. Each gate is also equipped with a Passenger Transfer Kit (PTK), which contains a slide board and a transfer sling.

If a Customer requires a seat with a movable aisle armrest to better facilitate a lift and transfer, the location of movable aisle armrests can be found here.

 

Preboarding

Preboarding is available for Customers 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 with a disability simply needs a little extra time to board, we will permit the Customer to board before Family Boarding, between the “A” and “B” groups. Those Customers who need extra time to board will receive a new boarding pass with an extra time designation. The designation serves as notification to our Operations (boarding) Agent that the Customer should be permitted to board before Family Boarding.

We will allow one travel companion to act as an “attendant” and preboard with a Customer with a disability if the Customer requires the person's assistance either to board or while on the aircraft. In most cases, the Customer requires assistance from only one other person, and any additional family members or friends are asked to board with their assigned group. 

Customers should request preboarding from our Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter or departure gate. Our Agents are trained to ask factfinding questions to determine if the Customer meets the qualifications described above. Those Customers who qualify for preboarding will receive a new boarding pass with a preboarding designation. The designation serves as notification to our Operations (boarding) Agent that the Customer should be permitted to preboard.

It's important to keep in mind that Customers who preboard may not occupy an exit seat.

Note: Customers who are preboarding because of a need for a specific seat onboard the aircraft should speak with the Operations (boarding) Agent prior to the start of preboarding to alert the Agent to the seating need.

 

Seating accommodations

As Southwest Airlines doesn’t assign seats, preboarding is available for Customers who require a specific seat to accommodate their disability.  See the Preboarding section above for details.

Customers who require more than one seat in order to accommodate a disability (e.g., a Customer who has his/her arm in a cast that extends into the space beside the Customer) may proactively purchase an additional seat(s) to notify Southwest of their specific seating need. 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.  In general, an additional seat can only be purchased for a Customer with a disability if the Customer would otherwise be unable to access our aircraft. Otherwise, as noted in our Contract of Carriage, the purchase of more than one seat for the sole purpose of ensuring additional personal space is prohibited.

 

Level-entry boarding

Jet bridges are not available in all Southwest cities. Customers traveling to, from, or through the following locations may board and deplane the aircraft through the use of stairs:

  • Aruba (AUA)
  • Belize City (BZE)
  • Burbank (BUR)
  • Cabo/Los Cabos (SJD)
  • Cancun (CUN)
  • Grand Cayman (GCM)
  • Havana (HAV)
  • Liberia (LIR)
  • Long Beach (LGB)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) for flights arriving from international locations
  • Mexico City (MEX)
  • Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
  • Punta Cana (PUJ)
  • San Jose (SJO)
  • Seattle (SEA)  - for flights with their final stop in Seattle and occasionally when all gates are full in the event of irregular operations

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 the following locations, Customers may be required to travel between the terminal and the aircraft onboard buses:

  • Aruba (AUA)
  • Cabo/Los Cabos (SJD)
  • Cancun (CUN)
  • Havana (HAV)
  • Mexico City (MEX)
  • Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
  • Punta Cana (PUJ)
  • San Jose (SJO)

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 who require assistance to board may be assisted via a chair carried up the stairs by trained ground personnel or a mechanical lift (where available).

Security screening

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for the screening process to ensure the security of the traveling public. Customers with disabilities are subject to no more and no less security screening than any other individual. TSA Cares is a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities assistance during the security screening process. Please visit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for more information.

Wheelchairs & other assistive devices

We recommend that Customers carry on all medications and assistive devices that can be transported in the cabin in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety guidelines (e.g., walkers, canes, crutches, CPAP machines, breast pumps, etc.). When packed separately from other personal items, medication and assistive devices do not count toward a Customer’s carryon limit. These items can be checked if the Customer prefers. During the check-in process, it is important that the Customer informs 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. 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 assistive device at the gate or baggage claim upon arrival at his or her destination. The Customer should advise our Employees when checking the device at which location the Customer prefers to retrieve it.

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. If the wheelchair compartment is not occupied by another Customer's wheelchair, other assistive devices may be stowed within it. On our 737-700 Series aircraft, the wheelchair compartment is located in the rear of the aircraft. On our 737-800 Series aircraft, the compartment is located in the forward section of the aircraft.  The compartment is available for Customers' use on a first-come, first-served basis.

Southwest Airlines does not have electrical outlets onboard the aircraft for personal use.

When booking a new reservation, Customers may use the “Add/Edit Disability Options” on the Enter Traveler Info page to indicate that he/she will be traveling with a personal wheelchair. When booking online, Customers may notice that there is a link (identified with a question mark) that directs the user to the details of our policies for assisting Passengers with disabilities. After the Customer has selected his/her option(s), the Customer should click “Continue” and complete the booking process. If a reservation has already been created, simply click on the “FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR” link located on the top of our home page. Then, select “Manage Reservations” from the “Flights” column, input the required information, and select “Continue.” From that page, click on the "Add/Edit” Disability Options link. Once a Customer has added his/her option(s), the Customer should click “Continue” and the information will be saved to the Customer’s reservation.

Customers may also advise us of any disability-related travel needs at the time of booking by telephone or, if a reservation has already been made, by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) prior to travel.

Customers who are traveling in a group of ten or more and will be transporting wheelchairs should 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.

 

Power wheelchairs

We may ask that a Customer relinquish a power wheelchair up to an hour in advance of departure. In that case, the Customer 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.

We recommend that Customers print our Wheelchair/Scooter Information Form and bring it with the Customer to the airport when presenting an 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 an assistive device.

The forward cargo bin door on our aircraft measures 35 by 48 inches.
The aft cargo bin door on our aircraft measures 33 by 48 inches.

Spillable batteries

If a wheelchair/scooter is powered by a spillable battery, Southwest must be able to access the battery to determine that it is approved for transportation.  The battery must show no signs of any defects or damage. The battery will be removed and placed in a protective battery box, as required by federal HAZMAT safety regulations. We recommend that Customers traveling with a device powered by a spillable battery 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 device. Customers may bring one "spare" spillable battery for each battery needed to operate the device. Spare batteries will also be packaged in a protective battery box.

 

Non-spillable batteries

If a wheelchair/scooter is powered by a non-spillable battery, Southwest must be able to access the battery to determine that it is approved for transportation. The battery must show no signs of any defects or damage. The battery must be properly secured to the device to prevent movement. 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, we recommend the Customer provide disconnect directions or label the corresponding cables so that our Agents can easily reconnect the battery and return the assistive device more quickly at the Customer's destination.

Customers may bring one “spare” non-spillable battery for each battery needed to operate the device. Spare non-spillable batteries must be transported as checked baggage and packaged in strong, rigid packaging marked "NONSPILLABLE," "NONSPILLABLE BATTERY," or "Not Restricted." The battery terminals must also be protected from short circuit.

 

Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries

If a 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. The 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 securely attached, the battery must be removed, terminals protected from short circuit and transported separately as carryon baggage.

If a device is specifically designed to allow its battery to be easily removed (i.e. a collapsible scooter, etc.), there is a single battery size limit of 300 watt-hours. If the device utilizes two batteries, each battery cannot exceed 160 watt-hours. The battery or batteries 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. 

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 a 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 the 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)

There are additional restrictions on hoverboards and self-balancing devices powered by lithium batteries.

Restraint systems

Customers are welcome to use FAA-approved child restraint systems (CRS) onboard as long as the safety seat has the appropriate manufacturer's label. Once onboard the aircraft, the CRS should be secured in a middle or window seat. If placed in a middle seat, the CRS may not impede the exit path of a Passenger in the window seat. CRSs may not be placed in an exit seat or in a row directly forward or aft of an exit row of seats.

If the CRS was manufactured prior to February 25, 1985, it must have one of the following labels. A CRS manufactured on or after February 26, 1985, must bear both of the labels in “A” and “B” below:

  1. This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.
  2. This child restraint device conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.
  3. FAA APPROVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH 14 CFR PART 21.305 (D) APPROVED FOR AIRCRAFT USE ONLY.

Southwest Airlines will also accept seats approved by the United Nations or foreign governments. The CRS must have a stamp or decal or some other mark that indicates foreign government approval. Seats manufactured under the standards of the UN must have a label with a circle surrounding the letter E, followed by a number assigned to the country that has granted approval.

It is important to note that the CARES CRS is the only harness-type device approved for use onboard. The device is designed for Customers weighing between 22 and 44 pounds and must have a label that indicates, “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14 CFR 21.305(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only.”

Additionally, please know the FAA has banned certain types of child restraints that may be harmful to a child in the event of an aviation emergency. These include backless booster seats and any device that ties the child to another person.

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. 

Allergies

Food Allergies

As of August 1, 2018, Southwest no longer serves peanuts onboard our flights. Instead, depending on the length of the flight, we offer pretzels and a few other complimentary snacks,

It's important to note that many of the snacks we serve may be packaged in the same facility as peanuts. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that they don’t contain peanut particles or oil. Additionally, we recognize that Southwest cannot prevent other Customers from bringing peanuts or products containing peanuts onboard our flights. Southwest cannot give assurances that remnants of peanuts and/or peanut dust/oil will not remain on the aircraft floor, seats, or tray tables

Customers with food allergies and intolerances are encouraged to read the labels of all snacks before consuming. Southwest is unable to provide snacks that will accommodate every individual Customer’s preferences and dietary needs. Customers may wish to bring their own snacks with them.

 

Animal allergies

If a Customer is severely affected by allergies to an animal and notifies us of his/her allergy at the departure gate, we can ensure that the Customer with the allergy is seated as far away from the animal as possible. 

Southwest is required by law to transport assistance and emotional support animals accompanying Customers with disabilities. Southwest requires that pets remain in an animal carrier throughout the duration of a flight. However, we cannot make such a requirement for assistance and emotional support animals. We also cannot require that Customers traveling with service animals provide advance notice of their intent to transport the animal. As such, we’re unable to provide advance notification if any animals will be traveling on a particular flight.

 

Other allergens

Southwest Airlines is unable to guarantee an environment free of allergens (e.g.; perfumes, lotions, cleaning solutions, latex, air fresheners, etc.) onboard the aircraft or within the airport terminal. Our Flight Attendants and Provisioning Agents use non-latex gloves while working flights.

Customers with cognitive & developmental disabilities

Booking a reservation

When booking a new reservation, Customers may use the “Add/Edit Disability Options” on the Enter Traveler Info page to indicate that he/she requires assistance. When booking online, Customers may notice that there is a link (identified with a question mark) that directs the user to the details of our policy for assisting Passengers with disabilities and the appropriate indicators can be added here. After selecting an option(s), click “Continue” and complete the booking process.

If a reservation has already been created, simply click on the “FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR” link located on the top of our home page. Then, select “Manage Reservations” from the “Flights” column, input the required information, and select “Continue.” From that page, click on the "Add/Edit” Disability Options link. Customers may then selecting an option(s), click “Continue” and the information will be saved to the reservation.

Customers may also advise us of any disability-related travel needs at the time of booking by telephone or if a reservation has already been made, by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) prior to travel.

 

At the airport

In order for our Employees to be aware of a Customer’s need for assistance, upon arrival at the airport, it is necessary to inform a uniformed Southwest Airlines Employee or Skycap (at the first point of contact, either at the Skycap podium or ticket counter) if additional assistance is needed within the airport. Customers must communicate with our Employees where and how the Customer needs to be assisted.

When considering air travel, Customers should consider the possibility of flight delays, diversions, or any other flight irregularities. We encourage Customers to have a plan of action for any health, sensory, dietary, or other needs in case a flight does not depart or arrive as scheduled.

 

Assistance

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.

Please note: In accordance with federal regulations, if a Customer meets any of the below mentioned criteria, it is required that they travel with a Safety Attendant-

  1. When the passenger, because of a mental disability so severe, is unable to comprehend or respond to safety related instructions.
  2. When the passenger has both a severe hearing and vision impairment and is unable to establish a means of communication with Southwest personnel sufficient to receive the safety briefing,
  3. When the passenger has a mobility impairment so severe that the passenger is unable to physically assist in his/her own evacuation during an emergency.

 

Services provided (upon request)

  • We will introduce the Customer to our Flight Attendant and make the Flight Attendant aware of the Customer's needs.
  • We will advise the Customer that he/she needs to deplane at his/her destination or that he/she needs to remain onboard at an intermediate city. We cannot, however, guarantee that he/she won't deplane at an intermediate stop if he/she chooses to do so.
  • We will assist the Customer from his/her arrival gate to his/her departure gate if his/her itinerary involves a connection. However, the Customer must identify him/herself as having requested assistance when he/she arrives at the connection airport.

Please note: We expect the Customer to follow our Crew Members' instructions for his or her own Safety as well as the Safety of others.

Services not provided

  • We do not provide custodial care or stay with the Customer on the aircraft or in the gate area prior to departure or during a layover.
  • We do not escort the Customer to a specific party or check said party's identification.

Customers who are deaf or hard of hearing

Customers who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our Teletypewriter (TTY) number, 1 (800) 533-1305, and speak with a Southwest Airlines Customer Representative. Our Customer Representatives can assist with making reservations and answering general questions. Customers may reach our Customer Relations Department through the Telecommunications Relay Service via 711. Additionally, we offer a video relay service at SWAVRS.TV, and there are TTY Phones located in each of the airports we serve.

When booking a new reservation, Customers may use the “Add/Edit Disability Options” on the Enter Traveler Info page to indicate that he/she is deaf or hard of hearing. When booking online, Customers may notice that there is a link (identified with a question mark) that directs the user to the details of our policies for assisting Passengers with disabilities. After the Customer has selected his/her option(s), the Customer should click “Continue” and complete the booking process.

If a reservation has already been created, simply click on the “FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR” link located on the top of our home page. Then, select “Manage Reservations” from the “Flights” column, input the required information, and select “Continue.” From that page, click on the "Add/Edit” Disability Options link. Once a Customer has added his/her option(s), the Customer should click “Continue” and the information will be saved to the Customer’s reservation.

Customers may also advise us of any disability-related travel needs at the time of booking by telephone or, if a reservation has already been made, by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) prior to travel.

We ask that Customers who are deaf or hard of hearing and require assistance identify themselves and the type of assistance they require upon arrival at the airport, at the gate, onboard the aircraft, at any connection points, and at the destination. If a 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. 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.).

Customers who are blind or have low vision

When booking a new reservation, Customers may use the “Add/Edit Disability Options” on the Enter Traveler Info page to indicate that he/she is blind or has low vision. When booking online, Customers may notice that there is a link (identified with a question mark) that directs the user to the details of our policies for assisting Passengers with disabilities. After the Customer has selected his/her option(s), the Customer should click “Continue” and complete the booking process. If a reservation has already been created, simply click on the “FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR” link located on the top of our home page. Then, select “Manage Reservations” from the “Flights” column, input the required information, and select “Continue.” From that page, click on the "Add/Edit” Disability Options link. Once a Customer has added his/her option(s), the Customer should click “Continue” and the information will be saved to the Customer’s reservation.

Customers may also advise us of any disability-related travel needs at the time of booking by telephone or, if a reservation has already been made, by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) prior to travel.

We ask that Customers who are blind or have low vision and require assistance identify themselves and the type of assistance they require upon arrival at the airport, at the gate, onboard the aircraft, at any connection points, and at the destination.

Each aircraft has a Braille Safety Information booklet available overlaid with large print. Ask a Flight Attendant once onboard the aircraft if you would like to review this briefing card.

Medication

We strongly suggest that all medication be packed in carryon luggage. Assistive devices (including medications) needed for a disability do not count toward bag limits (carryon or checked), provided the assistive devices are packed separately from other personal items. If a Customer opts to check assistive devices in his/her luggage, the Customer should inform the Customer Service Agent or Skycap upon checking in that such items are contained inside the checked bag. 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. 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.

Please alert a Flight Attendant if you use a needle/syringe while onboard so we may provide you with access to a disposal container.

Concerns about transporting medication or medical supplies through a security checkpoint can be verified using the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) standardized security screening procedures on the TSA website.

Please Note: Our aircraft are not equipped with refrigerators.

Trained service animals

A fully trained service animal is individually trained to perform a task(s) or work for a person with a physical and/or mental disability.

Southwest Airlines welcomes trained dogs, cats, and miniature horses as service animals onboard our flights as long as the Customer is able to provide credible verbal assurance that the animal is a trained service animal. Southwest Airlines does not accept unusual or exotic species of animals.

NOTE: A service animal vest, harness, ID card, or registration is not accepted as the sole indication an animal is a trained service animal.

An animal must be trained to behave properly in a public setting and under the control of the handler at all times. An animal that engages in disruptive behavior may be denied boarding. Examples of disruptive behavior include (but are not limited to):

  • Scratching, excessive whining or barking
  • Growling, biting, lunging
  • Urinating or defecating in the cabin or gate area

NOTE: Therapy animals, which provide affection or comfort to members of the public and are not trained to perform a specific task(s) for an individual related to a disability, may be eligible to travel in accordance with our Pet Policy for a fee. 

Booking a reservation

We strongly encourage a Customer to notify us in advance if he/she will be traveling with a trained service animal. When booking a new reservation, a Customer may use the “Add/Edit Disability Options” (situated on the Enter Traveler Info page) to indicate that he/she will be traveling with a trained service animal. After selecting an option(s), click “Continue” and complete the booking process.

If a reservation has already been created, click on the “FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR” link located on the top of our home page. Then, select “Manage Reservations” from the “Flights” column, input the required information, and select “Continue.” From that page, click on the "Add/Edit” Disability Options link. After selecting an option(s), click “Continue” and the information will be saved to the reservation.

A Customer traveling with an animal(s) that is unable to be accommodated in the space of a single seat may be required to purchase an additional ticket or rebook onto a later flight. Contact us about any disability-related travel needs or questions by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) prior to travel.

If an animal does not meet the qualifications to travel as a trained service animal, the animal may be eligible to travel in accordance with our Pet Policy for a fee. 

At the airport

In order to accept an animal as a trained service animal, airlines must determine both that the Passenger seeking travel is an individual with a disability and that the animal is a trained service animal. A Customer traveling with a trained service animal must check in with a Ticket Counter or Gate Agent to complete this process.

If a Customer’s status as an individual with a disability is unclear (for example, if the disability is not clearly visible), our Employees may ask fact-finding questions to determine whether an animal is a trained service animal, emotional support animal, or eligible to be accepted as a pet. For example, we may ask how an animal has been trained to assist with a disability or what work it has been trained to perform. A Customer may be asked about the nature of the animal at different points throughout the journey.

Onboard

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. In addition, a Customer traveling with a trained service animal cannot sit in an emergency exit seat. An animal can be placed on the aircraft floor or on the Customer’s lap (provided the animal is no larger than a child under the age of two). 

Animals must not:

  • Extend into the aircraft aisle
  • Occupy an aircraft seat or encroach upon a neighboring seat
  • Occupy a tray table

A Customer is not required to transport a trained service animal in a carrier. However, if a Customer opts to carry his/her trained service animal in a carrier, the carrier must be properly stowed for taxi, takeoff, and landing underneath the seat in front of the Customer.

International travel

A trained service animal will be allowed to travel on flights to/from all domestic and international destinations, but many international destinations have country-specific regulations. A Customer traveling with a trained service animal on an international itinerary is solely responsible for researching and complying with applicable laws, requirements, and/or procedures of each country on the Customer’s itinerary with respect to the acceptance of the animal.

Service Animal Relief Areas

Service animal relief areas are available at each of the locations we serve. Southwest Airlines Employees will direct a Customer to these areas upon request.

Emotional support animals

An emotional support animal provides support for an individual with a mental health-related disability and is not trained to perform a specific task(s) or work.

A Customer seeking to travel with an emotional support animal must satisfy all of the following requirements:

  • The Customer must have the required documentation described below.
  • The emotional support animal must be either a dog or a cat.
  • Each Customer may bring only one emotional support animal on the flight.
  • The emotional support animal must be in a carrier that can be stowed under the seat in front of the Customer or on a leash at all times while in the airport and onboard the aircraft.

Even if an emotional support animal is not trained to perform a specific task for the person with the disability, the animal must be trained to behave properly in a public setting and under the control of the handler at all times. An animal that engages in disruptive behavior may be denied boarding. Examples of disruptive behavior include (but are not limited to):

  • Scratching, excessive whining or barking
  • Growling, biting, lunging
  • Urinating or defecating in the cabin or gate area

NOTE: Therapy animals, which provide affection or comfort to members of the public and are not trained to perform a specific task(s) for an individual related to a disability, may be eligible to travel in accordance with our Pet Policy for a fee. 

Documentation requirements to travel with an emotional support dog or cat

A Customer seeking to travel with an emotional support animal must provide to a Southwest Airlines Employee current documentation (not more than one year old on the date of travel) on letterhead from a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor who is treating the Customer's mental health-related disability. The letter must state all four items below:

  1. The Passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  2. The Passenger needs the emotional support dog or cat as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the Passenger's destination
  3. The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor, and the Passenger is under his or her professional care AND
  4. The date and type of mental health professional's or medical doctor's license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued

Printable instructions for Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal (PDF).

Booking a reservation

We strongly encourage a Customer to notify us in advance if he/she will be traveling with an emotional support animal. When booking a new reservation, Customers may use the “Add/Edit Disability Options” (situated on the Enter Traveler Info page) to indicate that he/she will be seeking to travel with an emotional support animal. After selecting an option(s), click “Continue” and complete the booking process.

If a reservation has already been created, click on the “FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR” link located on the top of our home page. Then, select “Manage Reservations” from the “Flights” column, input the required information, and select “Continue.” From that page, click on the "Add/Edit” Disability Options link. After selecting an option(s), click “Continue” and the information will be saved to the reservation.

A Customer traveling with an animal(s) that is unable to be accommodated in the space of a single seat may be required to purchase an additional ticket or rebook onto a later flight. Contact us about any disability-related travel needs or questions by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) prior to travel.

If an animal does not meet the qualifications to travel as an emotional support animal, the animal may be eligible to travel in accordance with our Pet Policy for a fee. 

At the airport

A Customer traveling with an emotional support animal must check in with a Ticket Counter or Gate Agent to present required documentation. Once documentation is verified, an updated boarding pass will be provided to the Customer. The Customer may be asked about the nature of the animal at different points throughout the journey, and it’s important to keep the documentation accessible for presentation to Southwest Employees.

Airport operators may require an emotional support animal to be kenneled or carried while in the terminal building. A Customer traveling with an emotional support animal is solely responsible for researching and complying with applicable laws, requirements, and/or procedures of each locality on the Customer’s itinerary with respect to the acceptance of the animal.

Onboard

An emotional support animal must be in a carrier that can be stowed under the seat in front of the Customer or on a leash at all times while in the airport and onboard.  In accordance with federal safety regulations:

  • A Customer traveling with an emotional support animal cannot sit in an emergency exit seat.
  • The emotional support animal must be positioned so as not to obstruct Customers' expeditious evacuation in the unlikely event of an emergency.
  • If a Customer opts to carry his/her emotional support animal in a pet carrier, the carrier must be properly stowed for taxi, takeoff, and landing in the under the seat in front of the Customer’s seat.

Animals must not:

  • Extend into the aircraft aisle
  • Occupy an aircraft seat
  • Occupy a tray table
  • Extend beyond the footprint of the Customer’s seat

International travel

An emotional support animal will be allowed to travel on flights to/from all domestic and international destinations, but many international destinations have country-specific regulations. A Customer traveling with an emotional support animal on an international itinerary is solely responsible for researching and complying with applicable laws, requirements, and/or procedures of each country on the Customer’s itinerary with respect to the acceptance of the animal.

Service Animal Relief Areas

Service animal relief areas are available at each of the locations we serve. Southwest Airlines Employees will direct a Customer to these areas upon request.

Medical oxygen

Any Customer who requires a constant supply of compressed or liquid medical oxygen cannot travel on Southwest Airlines.

Note: 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.

Southwest is not equipped to transport or provide medical oxygen or other hazardous materials and/or contained gas as a carryon, as cargo, or as checked baggage. 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 current documentation from a licensed physician to verify that the Customer can complete the flight safely and without the use of medical oxygen.

Portable oxygen concentrators

Conditions that must be met in order to use an approved POC during flight:

  • The POC may only be used in its battery-operated mode. Southwest Airlines does not have electrical outlets onboard the aircraft for commercial product use.
  • The Customer must have a sufficient number of fully charged batteries to cover no less than 150% of the expected maximum flight duration, which is based on the scheduled flight time and factors such as weather conditions, traffic delays, and any other conditions that may delay travel. We recommend carrying at least one extra battery. Extra batteries must be packaged for carryon in a manner to prevent short circuit. Battery terminals must either be recessed or packaged so as to prevent contact with metal objects, including terminals of other batteries. Extra batteries must be carried on and cannot be inside of checked luggage.

A Customer may transport a POC that has not been approved for use inflight, but cannot use the device onboard. Although not required, we encourage Customers to bring documentation specifying that he/she will not need the device inflight. If a Customer is not planning on using a POC during the flight but our Employees have reason to believe that oxygen may be required to complete travel, additional medical documentation requirements may apply.

Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC) may be brought onboard our flights in accordance with Federal Regulations 14 CFR Parts 121 and 382.

Effective August 22, 2016: POCs intended for use during flight must bear a label on the exterior of the device containing the following certification statement in red lettering, “The manufacturer of this POC has determined this device conforms to all applicable FAA acceptance criteria for POC carriage and use on board aircraft.” Additionally, the following POC models are approved for use during flight with or without a label:

 

  • AirSep Focus
  • Inogen One G3
  • Precision Medical EasyPulse
  • AirSep FreeStyle
  • Inova Labs LifeChoice
  • Respironics EverGo
  • AirSep LifeStyle
  • Inova Labs LifeChoice Activox
  • Respironics SimplyGo
  • AirSep FreeStyle 5
  • International Biophysics LifeChoice
  • SeQual Eclipse
  • Delphi RS-00400
  • Invacare SOLO2
  • SeQual eQuinox Oxygen System (model 4000)
  • DeVilbiss Healthcare iGo
  • Invacare XPO2
  • SeQual Oxywell Oxygen System (model 4000)
  • Inogen One
  • Oxlife Independence Oxygen Concentrator
  • SeQual SAROS
  • Inogen One G2
  • Oxus RS-00400
  • VBOX Trooper Oxygen Concentrator

These models are approved for use with either the current or former manufacturers’ name.

 

Making Reservations

  1. Customers may indicate the intended use of a POC when booking travel via Southwest.com by using the “Add/Edit Disability Options” (situated on the Enter Traveler Info page). This can be done by clicking on the “Add/Edit Disability Options” link located in the Passenger details section.  After you have selected the applicable option(s), click “Continue.” If a reservation has already been created, Customers should click on the “FLIGHT | HOTEL | CAR” link located on the top of our home page. Then, select “Manage Reservations” from the “Flights” column, input the required information, and select “Continue.” From that page, click on the "Add/Edit” Disability Options link. Once the option(s) have been added , click “Continue” and the information will be saved to the reservation.
  2. If the reservation is made by telephone or the Customer would like to advise us of their intended POC use by telephone, the Customer should inform our Customer Representative of the intended use of the POC and either note the model of POC to be used or verify that the POC includes the label described above. This can be done by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) prior to travel.
  3. If booking through a travel agent, the Customer should call 1-800-I-FLY-SWA(1-800-435-9792)  after the reservation is made.

 

At the airport

  1. The Customer using the approved POC must check with a Customer Service Agent and have their device verified. To do so, the Customer should arrive at the departure gate no less than 45 minutes prior to departure. If the Customer wishes to preboard, the Customer must then see a Customer Service Agent to receive a Preboarding Document (if he/she has not done so already).
  2. Prior to boarding each flight associated with the Customer's itinerary, the Southwest Airlines Operations Agent will verify the POC model, phases of flight (taxi, takeoff, cruise, landing) during which the Customer intends to use the device, and number and packaging of batteries.
  3. We strongly suggest that Customers using POCs in the aircraft board with the preboarding group. Note: Customers who do not make themselves available for preboarding in order to secure an aircraft seat that meets FAA safety requirements may be denied boarding or rebooked on an alternate flight to their destination in order to be seated appropriately. While we will make every attempt to accommodate a Customer using a POC who does not preboard, we will not delay the aircraft to reseat Customers.

 

Onboard the aircraft

  1. In accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Safety Regulations, the Customer using an approved POC must be seated in a seat closest to the window than any other Customer in that row. In many situations, the Customer using the approved POC must be seated in a window seat to comply with the Safety Regulations. Consistent with federal safety regulations, a POC that will be used inflight must be able to fit completely under a seat in a space that is 19” D x 11” H x 10.75” W.  (Some POCs must be positioned on its side in order to fit underneath out aircraft seats.)
  2. Approved POCs that will be used during any phase of flight should be stowed completely underneath the seat in front of the Customer using the POC. As a result, most Customers using POCs may not be seated in the first row (bulkhead).
  3. Pursuant to FAA Safety Regulations, a Customer using a POC may not occupy an emergency exit seat.
  4. No maximum weight applies to POCs except in the following situations:
    1. Any abnormally heavy item that appears to exceed the structural limitations of a designated carryon stowage area must be checked and carried in the cargo hold.
    2. POCs that are not being used inflight that are placed in an overhead bin should not exceed the maximum placarded overhead bin weight limits.

Vendors that rent some or all of the above approved POCs:

  • Advanced Aeromedical, Inc. (800) 346-3556. Ask about our Southwest discount and frequent rental program.
  • Liberty Medical (800) 375-6060. 27 years of oxygen experience. Ask us about our Southwest Customer Discount!

Note: any Customer who requires a constant supply of compressed or liquid medical oxygen cannot travel on Southwest Airlines.  



Non-passenger escort

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), all persons passing through security checkpoints must have a boarding pass, security document, or another type of authorization from the airline. As such, 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 uniformed Southwest Airlines Employee at our ticket counter or Skycap podium. Individuals who desire an NPE should advise the Employee of his or her need to accompany/meet a Southwest Passenger to/at the gate to accommodate the Passenger's disability. The individual who desires a NPE pass will need to present photo identification and detail the Southwest Customer's itinerary. We recommend reviewing our Suggested Airport Arrival Times page to help determine when individuals 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.

It's important to explain that the TSA, not the airlines, is responsible for security checkpoints. If the flight arrival occurs after security checkpoint has closed for the evening, then we will not be able to provide a NPE pass.

Your rights

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:

  • For calls made from within the United States, by telephone via the Toll-Free Hotline for Air Travelers with Disabilities at 1 (800) 778-4838 (voice) or 1-800-455-9880 (TTY)
  • By telephone to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division at (202) 366-2220 (voice) or (202) 366-0511 (TTY)
  • By mail to the Air Consumer Protection Division, C-75, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, West Building, Room W96-432, Washington, DC 20590
  • On the U.S. Government Publishing Office website

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