Southwest Airlines allows passengers to carry-on Emotional Support Animals, so long as the passenger provides the required documentation, the animal is trained to not freak out on a crowded plane and the passenger isn’t seated in an emergency exit seat. But at least one Southwest staffer not only decided this allowance does not extend to rodents — he also mistakenly believes that rabbits are rodents.
On her tumblr page, the passenger says she had noted that she would be carrying her rabbit on board as an ESA. She also provided all the proper documentation and called the airline in advance to make sure there wouldn’t be a problem.
But when she went to board the flight, a Southwest staffer told her that she could only bring on a dog or cat as an ESA. He told her this policy is stated on the company’s site, but in actuality there is no mention of the dog/cat-only rule on the site.
The only mention of a limit is if you actually download the printable PDF of the ESA rules. At the bottom of this document it reads “Southwest Airlines does not accept for transportation therapy dogs or exotic animals.”
Regardless, the Southwest staffer allegedly told the passenger that she couldn’t board because you can’t bring a rodent on the plane. Except, rabbits and rodents aren’t even in the same Order, biologically speaking.
“What happened to me today is illegal and is against the law and in violation of Air Central Access Act as well as against protection under the law with people with disabilities,” writes the passenger.
After realizing she wasn’t going to be able to board the Southwest flight, the woman says she was able to get a seat for her and her rabbit traveling companion on a United flight. Unfortunately, this meant she had to pay three times the amount of her Southwest airfare.