Peacock on a plane? What airline policies say about emotional support animals

Let’s take a minute to talk about peacocks.

Beautiful? Yes. Majestic? Sure. Travel buddies? Not so much.

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Peacocks aren’t traditionally considered emotional support animals by airlines. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

At least according to United Airlines.

By now, you’ve probably seen photos of the woman who showed up at Newark Liberty International Airport earlier this week with her emotional support peacock, hoping to board a United Airlines plane.

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According to the Associated Press, although the woman said she had a second ticket for the peacock, United denied her request.

So what DO the various airlines say about emotional support animals? Here’s a sample:

United Airlines: Trained service animals are accepted in cabin for qualified individuals with a disability. Emotional support and psychiatric assist animals are also accepted in cabin for qualified individuals with a disability if certain documentation requirements are met, the policy states, but “an animal should sit at the customer’s feet without protruding into the aisles to comply with safety regulations.” Customers traveling with an emotional support or psychiatric assist animal must also give the airline at least 48 hours advance notification.

Delta Airlines: Delta made headlines on Jan. 19 when it announced plans to enforce stricter rules for transporting service and support animals, citing an increase of in-flight incidents and “a lack of regulation.” As of March 1, passengers must submit proof of health or vaccinations through Delta’s website 48 hours before a flight. Those traveling with psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals will also need to sign a document stating that the animal has the ability to behave in the cabin.

Southwest AirlinesSouthwest’s policy allows small vaccinated domestic cats and dogs to travel “in-cabin under the seat in front of you.” Animals on board must also be “harmless, not disruptive, odorless and require no attention during flight.” Service and emotional support animals must be trained to behave in a public setting, the policy states. “Southwest Airlines does not accept therapy dogs for transportation. We also do not allow customers to travel with unusual or exotic animals (including, but not limited to: rodents, ferrets, insects, spiders, reptiles, hedgehogs, rabbits or sugar gliders) acting as assistance animals or emotional support animals.”

American Airlines: American’s policy states that “to travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal you must provide recent documentation (within one year) to reservations at least 48 hours before your flight.” Service animals, including emotional support animals, are welcome at no charge if they meet the requirements.


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