My Emotional Support Blog

February 6, 2018

Last week, a woman tried to board a United flight with a peacock. Not just any peacock, an emotional support peacock.

United, in an effort to become my new favorite airline, refused the boarding of the bird. But before United got my full allegiance, Delta came out and tightened their rules around allowing emotional support pets. United soon followed, and it will no doubt ruffle a few feathers (high five).

In justifying their rule change, Delta reported that it flew 250,000 “support” animals last year, up 150 percent from 2015, while reports of biting or defecating nearly doubled since 2016.

Airlines and the FDA – for all their warts and all-too-frequent snafus – should be commended for allowing emotional support animals on board to assist passengers with disabilities. Flying sucks under the best conditions, and when a disability comes into play, passengers need any additional accommodations they can get, no matter how furry or slobbery.

But what this has turned into is Doug and Wendy Whiner bucking the system to avoid paying the $125 fee to board house pets on planes, and carrying their primped Poodle and slobbering bulldog (sorry, Barokas mascot) into coach.

When you see someone with a pet on a plane, your instinct should be that the animal is assisting a passenger in need. Instead, my first reaction now is that the passenger – probably someone who calls the dog a ‘fur baby’ – just circumvented the rules because they wanted their dog to go to Branson with them.

Something that should elicit positive emotions was turning into a circus – literally. Airlines are right to put their foot down and close loopholes in their original good gesture in order to eliminate the negative reactions and feedback they were receiving as a result of unruly animals and even more obnoxious animal owners. Sometimes, even when their heart is in the right place, brands must be ready to put the kibosh on the select few who want to exploit goodwill for their own benefit.

I write this as, admittedly, someone without pets. But I do have kids, so I’m used to being licked, bitten, pooped on, and barked at. My heart goes out to passengers who generally require the services of emotional support animals, so both Delta and United should be applauded for looking out for those passengers.

And to the lady who tried to bring the peacock on the plane – if you can figure out a way to help me file my sons as emotional support kids and get out of paying their round-trip fees, you’ll have my full emotional support. Otherwise, the only emotion you’ll get out of me and other passengers is 💩.

– Jason

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