Some animals, such as dogs and cats, are considered to be acceptable pets. On the other hand, some people seek solace in petting other kinds of creatures. From snakes to tarantulas, the list quickly becomes weird as the animals tend to become more dangerous. Some people tend to have such pets either to stand out from the crowd, or they are genuine animal lovers who empathize with the discomfort these animals face in today’s modern society. However, a common problem arises when such animals are brought on public transportation systems.
Passengers on flights often bring “emotional support animals” to aid with their fear of flying. Cats and dogs are common examples, and majority airlines also have policies that allow such pets to be in close vicinity of other passengers while cruising mile-high in the sky. However, this policy has resulted in a growing number of problems of late, as passengers have attempted to bring pet pigs, peacocks, and hedgehogs to provide them with emotional support during a distressful flight.
In one such case, a woman flying in Frontier Airlines from Orlando, Florida to Cleveland, brought a squirrel onboard to aid her during the course of the flight. She had earlier stated in her reservation that she would be bringing an emotional support animal, but the airline was unaware that it was a squirrel. The air hostesses immediately asked her to disembark the flight. The unidentified woman, who was also in a wheelchair, grew angry and strongly refused to do so. Left with no other options, the airline workers alerted the Orlando police, who forcibly removed from the flight.
The whole incident quickly went viral as passengers shot it with their smartphones. Frontier Airlines explained, that, “Rodents, including squirrels, are not allowed on Frontier flights’. They went on to state that the passenger was advised of the policy and asked to deplane. Indeed, Frontier Airline’s policy states: “We do not accept unusual or exotic animals including but not limited to rodents, reptiles, insects, hedgehogs, rabbits, sugar gliders, non-household birds or improperly cleaned and/or animals with a foul odor.”
Maybe the woman should have done her research before deciding to bring a squirrel on board. Maybe she knew but hoped that people just simply wouldn’t notice.
Other prominent airlines also have imposed restrictions on what types of animals are permitted in flights. However, people have seemed to undermine the strictness of the policy, and have pushed the boundaries of carrying animals onboard. According to United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, someone once “brought an emotional support animal for their emotional support animal.”
The incident has resulted in airlines modifying their policy towards what kind of animals constitute as a viable pet for “emotional support’. The new policy is set to be instated from 1st November, 2018, and states that only cats and dogs are allowed, with a 48-hours’ prior notice.
It’s unclear if the woman will face any charges for clearly defying airline policy by bringing a squirrel on board. In today’s age, when all sorts of animals are kept as pets, one cannot just deem only cats and dogs to provide ‘emotional support”. If a squirrel does give you that feeling, well and good, just don’t harm the safety of other passengers by bringing it in an enclosed space.