Southwest Airlines has always been a bit of a maverick in the industry (you can thank the company's colorful founder Herb Kelleher for that), making flying from one place to another affordable and even fun. Two recent announcements by the airline show that Southwest continues to forge its own path.
First, Southwest announced that beginning this month, the airline would no longer serve peanuts on any of its flights, instead substituting pretzels. Why the change? Because of concerns over peanut allergies.
This is major, particularly for an airline that built much of its reputation on the little bags of peanuts served by flight attendants in lieu of meals starting in 1970 (there's even a bestselling book about Southwest Airlines titled Nuts!).
In a statement, a company spokesperson said, "Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest's history and DNA. However, to ensure the best on-board experience for everyone, especially for customers with peanut-related allergies, we've made the difficult decision to discontinue serving peanuts on all flights beginning August 1."
Of course, the National Peanut Board immediately protested the announced new policy. I would guess, however, that whoever it is that sponsors National Pretzel Day is pretty happy with Southwest's move.
Second, last week Southwest announced its new policy for emotional support and trained service animals. As we all know, there has been quite a lot of controversy lately about emotional support animals (pigs, peacocks, turkeys) flying on airplanes, and the tragedy of pets that have died in flight. Beginning September 17, 2018, emotional support animals will be limited to just dogs and cats, and trained service animals will be limited to just three breeds: dogs, cats, and miniature horses (yes, you read that right -- miniature horses). No rodents, hedgehogs, spiders, rabbits, reptiles, or any other creatures.
Seriously. Here is a picture of a miniature horse as a service animal aboard a Southwest flight. pic.twitter.com/sZBZSYQuCt-- Matt Lindner (@mattlindner) November 1, 2015
I'm not sure how passengers will get their miniature horses stowed under their seats for takeoff, but I guess the flight attendants will help them figure that out.
I for one am still a fan of Southwest despite all these changes. I'm happy to nibble on pretzels instead of peanuts, and the occasional dog, cat, and horse are fine with me. Just keep them out of my seat and we'll be ok.