A US airline has made a flightless bird of a peacock when it denied the “comfort animal” to accompany a passenger boarding the aircraft.
Pictures of the elegant bird atop a luggage trolley at Newark Liberty International Airport were shared to Facebook by travel talk show The Jet Set, on Sunday.
Even though the unidentified woman offered to purchase a second ticket for the peacock, Delta Air denied her request, Fox News reported.
The woman attempted to bring the oversized bird onboard with her as her “emotional support” pet, which can be allowed to assist emotional flyers.
Experiencing anxiety when flying is common for many people, so an Emotional Service Animal (ESA) is permitted on flights in the US to passengers usually requiring appropriate documentation from a medical practitioner. ESAs are generally dogs, but may also be other animals.
The rules differ from country to country, and each airline has a different policy, but it seems the US is more liberal with permitting ESAs on board aircraft.
US federal guidelines specify airlines must permit passengers with disabilities to board with trained service animals or emotional support animals, regardless of the pet’s potential to “offend or annoy” other passengers, according to The Washington Post.
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Airlines however are permitted to deny boarding “unusual” service animals, including snakes and other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders.
The pictures shared on social media left many divided about United’s decision to refuse the animal on its plane. Some believe passengers are increasingly abusing the allowance of emotional support animals to bypass pet cargo fees.
“Now its getting out of hand,” one person wrote in the Facebook thread following the pictures.
“People are abusing this and causing those with true service animals difficulty,” another added.
A third wrote: “Ridiculous to think she could fly with a bird this size. A very loud large bird.”
“Unbelievable, this has to stop now!!” one other wrote.
However, one person claiming to be an airline employee, didn’t think having the peacock onboard would be too bad.
“I’ll take the majestic peacock over the 5+ dogs that have attacked my co-workers just this past holiday season,” they wrote.
A spokesperson for United told Fox News the travelers with the peacock were told they would not be able to bring it on board.
"This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport," said United in a statement.
Delta Air has noted a surge in the numbers of passengers with service or comfort animals in recent years, raising suspicions some passengers are abusing the federal law to fraudulently bring pets on to airplanes.
On January 19, the carrier announced it would be cracking down on emotional support animals after citing a 150 per cent increase in the number of service and support animals carried on board since 2015.
The airline said it would now require passengers seeking to fly with pets to present additional documents outlining passenger's need for the animal, and proof of the animal's training and vaccinations, 48 hours prior to the scheduled flight.
Last weekend's failed peacock flight follows previous successful attempts by passengers bringing along a turkey, pig, and even a llama as their "therapy pet".
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