To put it short and sweet, Exalted with Armies of Legionfall is no longer required to collect the DK and Monk class pets.
The "grind" is now mainly about collecting enough Artifact Power to unlock all weapon traits.
This news was revealed on a recent Developer Q&A this past week.
Q: Will the exalted requirement for class mounts be account wide?
A: No, it will not be account wide. But...that requirement has been removed! We did want people to have flying before the mount but now we see with how pacing has worked out that that is not a worry. So no, you do not need exalted for class mounts. Just completing the Legionfall campaign and the finale of that for your class = unlocked class mount.
Completing the class mount quest line is necessary to unlock the class pets on the vendor. Without the class mount, players won't be able to see the vendor items at all.
Now that Exalted is no longer required to access the class mount quests, this means reaching Exalted is also no longer necessary to collect the pets.
This is GREAT news for players working on alts (and heck, this is good news for mains too). Those that planned to wait for their main to reach AK 50, so they could send alts a level 45 AK Tome, can now do so without worrying about meeting other "grindy" requirements for the pets.
With this change, here's the updated process for collecting the DK and Monk pets.
1. Reach level 110.
2. Complete class campaign to unlock third relic slot. (necessary to complete a quest in step 6)
3. Unlock and complete Broken Shore quests.
4. Upgrade Artifact Knowledge. (requires AK 25)
5. Empower weapon(s). (requires step 4 + weapon level 34 to start the quest, and weapon level 35 to complete)
6. Complete the ongoing Broken Shore campaign. (estimated 11 weeks from 7.2 launch)
7. Complete the class mount quest(s) to unlock the pets on the vendor. (requires step 6)
8. Level weapon(s) to 52.
9. Buy desired pet(s). (costs 1k Order Resources each)
One thing that should be noted though, is that collectors will want to reach Exalted with Armies of Legionfall on at least one character. The Paragon reward chest (earned every 10k reputation after Exalted) has a chance to drop a new pet, Orphaned Felbat.