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Southwest Airlines has opened up its cabin doors to passengers' furry pals, courtesy of its brand-new P.A.W.S (Pets Are Welcome on Southwest) policy, which permits small cats and dogs in cabin for a $75 fee. While P.A.W.S has triggered delight from pet owners nationwide, it’s also resulted in a whine from customers suffering from pet allergies, afraid of the inescapable dander soon-to-be onboard. Several other commercial airlines (like Jet Blue, AirTran, and United, to name a few) have allowed pets in the cabin for quite some time, however, and serious allergy problems, if they've been reported, have not proved to be a large enough issue to lead to cancellations of the policy. Southwest also plans to maintain a five pet-per-plane limitation to keep noise, odor, and allergies under control.
The news of the animal addition comes along with a few new fees for "extras" in the air, including a $50 roundtrip charge for unaccompanied minors under 12 years of age (there used to be no fee), and a $50 charge for a third checked bag (raised from $25).
Southwest – which long prided itself in being the "no-fee airline" – has enacted P.A.W.S and the new fee policies as a means of generating extra revenue in the face of the recession’s big-hit on aviation, without punishing the everyday traveler. Happily, the fees are projected to affect only about one percent of the airlines’ overall clientele.
P.A.W.S and the additional fees went into effect for tickets purchased since June 1, for flights occuring on or after June 17.