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"Ruh-roh!" Southwest Airlines to boot emotional support animals at BWI starting in March

Photo Credit: Shelley Castle Photography

According to Southwest Airlines, the company offers up to 204 departures a day to 65 cities from Baltimore Washington International Airport. But some passengers might cry when they hear that the airline has just changed its policies regarding emotional support animals flying with them.

The company announced Monday, January 25, that Effective March 1, 2021, the airline will accept only trained service dogs for travel and will no longer transport emotional support animals. The new measure is consistent with new regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

With the revision, Southwest Airlines® will only allow service dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability to travel with the customer.

Those types of disability include a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability and only dogs will be accepted (including those for psychiatric service) — no other species will be accepted as a trained service animal.

"We applaud the Department of Transportation's recent ruling that allows us to make these important changes to address numerous concerns raised by the public and airline employees regarding the transport of untrained animals in the cabins of aircraft," said Steve Goldberg, the airlines Senior Vice President, Operations and Hospitality.

He said, the airline continues to allow qualified individuals with a disability to bring trained service dogs for travel and remains committed to providing a positive and accessible travel experience for all of our Customers with disabilities."

Customers traveling with trained service dogs now must present a complete, and accurate, DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form at the gate or ticket counter on their day of travel to affirm a service animal's health, behavior, and training.

Customers should complete the form, which will be available both on the airline's website and at airport locations, after booking their travel.

Customers may still travel with some animals as part of the airline's existing pets program for a charge; however, the animals must meet all applicable requirements regarding in-cabin stowage and species (dogs and cats only).

Customers who hold existing reservations for travel with unaccepted animals after Feb. 28, 2021 may contact Southwest for more information and assistance. Southwest's policies for traveling with trained service animals can be reviewed at

Southwest employs just under 4,500 people through BWI, and has 31 gates. Southwest's facilities at BWI rank 36th in its system.

SOURCE: Southwest Airlines Press Release/Data

Southwest teamed up with Helen Woodward Animal Center to transport 64 animals from Houston to San Diego,for pets displaced by Hurricane Harvey.