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Southwest will accept only trained service dogs starting March 1

Southwest Airlines has joined most other major air carriers in accepting only trained service dogs to accompany passengers.

The change begins March 1.

Southwest announced the change Monday to bring it in line with new regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation. It no longer will allow emotional support animals on aircraft.

“With this 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,” Southwest said in a news release. “The 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.”

Customers traveling with trained service dogs will have to 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 southwest.com and at airport locations, after booking their travel.

“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, senior vice president, Operations and Hospitality. “Southwest Airlines continues to support the ability of 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.”

Southwest said it no longer will accept emotional support animals for travel effective on March 1. Customers still may 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 with existing reservations for travel with unaccepted animals after Feb. 28 may contact Southwest for more information and assistance. Service dog policies are available at southwest.com.

Contact Marvin Clemons at mclemons@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Marv_in_Vegas on Twitter.

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