Southwest Airlines is an exceptionally emotional support animal friendly airline. Southwest accepts ESA letters from licensed mental health professionals and unlike many of the other airlines, Southwest does not require their own separate form. Southwest employees are known to be kind to emotional support animal handlers and and their animals. Read below to understand Southwest Airlines’ emotional support animal policies.


southwest emotional support animal policy

(Disclaimer: The information below is for educational purposes and should be confirmed directly with the airline. is not associated or affiliated with this airline or any of their subsidiaries.)

Documents for Emotional Support Animals on Southwest Airlines

In order to fly with an emotional support animal on Southwest Airlines, you must have an ESA letter written by a licensed mental health professional on their official letterhead. An ESA letter must include the following information:

  • Your mental/emotional disability must meet the requirements of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-V)
  • You must need the ESA for the flight itself or at the final destination
  • The signing mental health professional must provide their license number, the state that the license was issued, and the date the license was issued
  • The ESA letter must be on the therapist’s own letterhead and dated no later than one year from traveling date

How to Get your Official ESA Documentation from ESA Doctors

how to get ESA letter


Pre-Flight ESA Requirements for Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines encourages customers with emotional support animals to provide advance notification of their ESA. You will need to qualify for an ESA letter prior to booking with them and provide the ESA letter at the airport. To notify Southwest Airlines of your ESA, you can include your need for your assistance animal by retrieving your reservation here.

Southwest Airlines retrieve reservation page

To include your emotional support animal on your reservation, you may add the “Special Assistance” request to your account.

After you input your Confirmation Number, First Name, and Last Name, click on the Search button and find your reservation. Click on the “Special Assistance” link under your name to include your emotional support animal to your Southwest reservation.

Southwest Special Assistance link

Then choose the “Traveling with emotional support animal” option and update your information.

Southwest emotional support animal request link

How Many Emotional Support Animals Can You Fly with on Southwest?

Southwest only allows one emotional support animal per passenger on their flights. You must provide documentation for your emotional support animal.

In-Cabin Policies Concerning ESA’s on Southwest Airlines

When traveling with your ESA pet, Southwest does have policies in place while you are seated. This includes your ESA must be well-behaved and can only sit on your lap or in front of your seat; however, to sit on the floor, the ESA cannot be any larger than the average two-year-old child. Plus, the animal cannot be placed in an airline seat or in the emergency exit seat.

The animal must either be in a carrier or on a leash at all times. The passenger is responsible for the animal’s behavior at all times.

What Type of ESA’s Are Not Allowed on Southwest Airlines?

Southwest Airlines welcomes dogs and cats as emotional support animals on their flights. Southwest does not accept unusual or exotic animals. ESA pets that are not allowed on board include;

  • Any exotic animal
  • Insects
  • Reptiles
  • Snakes
  • Sugar Gliders
  • Rabbits/Rodents
  • Hedgehogs

Note: Southwest Airlines has the right to deem any exotic ESA suitable or not suitable for in-cabin travel.

Emotional Support Animals and Southwest Airlines

Yes, Southwest Airlines does have very specific ESA pet policies in place, but as long as you follow these policies and meet their ESA requirements, you can sit back and enjoy the flight with your emotional support animal in tow.

Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal Online


Get the Love and Support you deserve!

You may also find these articles helpful:

Feds Issue New Airline Rules for Flying with Emotional Support Animals – 2019

What Does an Airline Approved ESA Letter Look Like?