Like many airlines, Southwest has been working on new policies to rein in passenger abuse of generous “emotional support” animal guidelines. Customers have successfully flown with support spiders, snakes, possums, raccoons and, of course, cats and dogs, even large slobbering ones shedding fur.
We wrote here in April about airlines’ varied struggles with developing standard policies that meet the needs and desires of passengers paying a small fortune to fly cross-country without being eaten and passengers who feel the need to have their little baby Bailey nearby at all times.
The impetus for changes came after several alleged service dogs in those cramped spaces attacked other passengers, much like some aching travelers dream of going after exiting passengers moving slower than turtles, which have also provided emotional support in recent years.
The Americans With Disabilities Act requires airlines to carry genuine service dogs for the blind and disabled. So, air carriers have been hesitant to put limits on what kind of support creatures you can carry on board for free.
Southwest’s new policy clearly stipulates it will now only allow passengers on board with dogs, cats and horses.
Wait! What? Miniature horses are now allowed.
It’s one thing to have a yippy chihuahua in a carrier under the next seat by its owner’s feet.
But horses? Even miniature ones?
These horses may be miniature compared to their equine cousins who run the Kentucky Derby. But when the six knees of three passengers don’t fit comfortably behind a row of airline seats for six hours, squeezing a horse in there too seems problematic.
“On today’s flight we have complementary soft drinks, coffee and oats.”
According to Southwest’s new policy, which takes effect Sept. 17, a passenger must be able to provide the ticket counter agent with credible assurance that the animal is a well-trained service creature. Uh-huh. “Oh, yes, he loves the sounds of jet engines seven miles in the sky.”
Also the traveling animal must be leashed or, well, harnessed. And, sad to say, no herds. You can only bring one horse onboard at a time.
No requirement to also bring along a shovel — yet.