Delta Airlines didn’t cry fowl when a Seattle woman boarded her pet turkey on a flight to Salt Lake City in 2016.
Under the Air Carrier Access Act, the bird was allowed to take flight because it was the woman’s emotional support animal.
On Saturday, however, United Airlines turned away a woman’s emotional support peacock in the lobby of Newark, New Jersey’s Liberty International Airport, a story that picked up muster on a national stage.
The peacock, named Dexter, “did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size,” United Airlines said in a statement. “We explained this to the customer on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport.”
Spokane International Airport spokesman Todd Woodard has never had to type such a statement.
The only service and emotional support animals to trickle through the Inland Northwest’s foremost airport have been dogs and the occasional house cat.
If a peacock or pot-bellied pig – the most common of unconventional service animals – came through the doors of the Spokane airport, however, they could get the green light with the right documentation.
“As long as they’re being permitted, they’re good to go,” Woodard said.
In fact, Woodward said, Spokane International Airport has a pair of support and emotional support animal relief areas, spots designated for the animals to relieve themselves.
“It’s a busy day at the terminal for the animals, too,” Woodward said.
The Air Carrier Access Act defines a service animal as an animal individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability, according to the Disability Rights Center.
Like a service animal, an emotional support animal must be approved by a medical professional for an individual.
Service animals are not limited to dogs, and include emotional support animals, but airlines have the right to make their own policies for other species, according to the DRC.
While the woman in New Jersey reportedly didn’t give notice for her peacock, the Disability Rights Center said no advance notice is needed for a service dog. Other service animals and emotional support animals may have to give notice, the DRC said, depending on the airline.
This mostly applies to on-the-ground travel, too.
Like Woodward, Spokane Transit Association spokesman Brandon Rapez-Bettey said he hasn’t heard of any unusual service animals trying to board a bus.
But the only animals allowed to travel on the bus are service animals, he said, unless the animal is in a carrier designated for the animal.
The peacock will now be traveling by ground. Its owner, a New York-based photographer who reportedly bought a ticket for its own seat on the plane, will be voyaging cross-county to Los Angeles, according to the bird’s Instagram account.
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