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Southwest Welcomes Pets, Will Charge Third Bag/Unaccompanied Minor Fees

May 29, 2009 By: George Dooley


Pets will now have the "Freedom to Fly" on Southwest Airlines as the carrier will soon allow customers to bring along small cats and dogs in the aircraft cabin for a special low "pet fare" of $75 each way. All pets must be in a carrier that fits under the airplane seat, and the carrier will count as the customer's carry-on bag. Customers can begin purchasing tickets for their small cats and dogs on June 1, for travel beginning June 17. Southwest also modified its unaccompanied minor and third and overweight bag policies

"We know from customer and employee feedback that our new 'pet' customers will be a welcomed addition to any flight," said Southwest Airlines Chairman, President, and CEO Gary Kelly. "Our enhanced boarding process has opened the window, allowing us to accommodate small pets comfortably on a Southwest flight - without impacting our efficiency."

The new pet policy is one of several programs and processes that Southwest Airlines says it is implementing in an effort to enhance the service the airline provides and, at the same time, create opportunities for incremental revenue growth. Read more on these programs and processes in a blog post by Kelly at www.blogsouthwest.com.

"These new programs and processes are just the starting point with additional initiatives planned for later this year," Kelly said. "It is always our goal to be upfront with our customers and to set the right customer expectations. Our changes today associate a charge for items that are truly an extra service."

Southwest Airlines has long absorbed the additional cost associated with the administrative work and extra care necessary to safely transport unaccompanied minors (customers ages five through 11 traveling without an adult), which represent less than one percent of its customers. The airline will soon implement a $25 each-way service charge, in addition to the fare or Rapid Rewards Award ticket, for customers who are traveling as an unaccompanied minor. The unaccompanied minor service charge will apply to tickets purchased June 1 and later, for travel beginning June 17. Unaccompanied minors may only travel on nonstop or direct flights (no change of planes).

"This service charge will help us cover our added costs and still maintain our competitive Low Fare advantage," Kelly said.

Additionally, Southwest will increase its already existing service charge to check a third and overweight bag (weighing 51 to 70 pounds). Currently, Southwest customers pay $25 to check a third or overweight bag on the airline. Customers traveling on or after June 17 will be charged $50 to check a third or overweight bag. Southwest continues to be one of the only airlines that allows customers to check their first two bags without a fee.

"The increase in the baggage charge impacts approximately one percent of our customers," Kelly said.

Visit the www.southwest.com/pets.


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