Southwest Airlines has decided to draw the line at emotional support snakes. From now on only standard support animals like dogs, cats, and miniature horses will be allowed on flights. The new mandate was issued this past September after a bevy of problems arising from passengers bringing strange flying companions on board with them.
Emotional support animals have the ability to follow their owners wherever they go. They can go into stores, malls, amusement parks, and fly on planes. While normal animals have to suffer the cargo hold support companions get to stretch out in coach. What most people do not know is that emotional support animals are not relegated to just dogs and cats. Support animals actually come in a variety of species. There are support ducks, snakes, ferrets, spiders, turkeys, rabbits, hedgehogs, pigs, sugar gliders, and peacocks. Many of these odd choices for companionship have found their way onto Southwest flights which is causing a bit of a problem.
Apparently, an emotional support dog is fine but walking onto a plane with an emotional support peacock is a bit of a stretch. The owners of the animals are just fine but their fellow passengers and Southwest personnel are having a hard time. It is understandable that a fellow passenger may draw the line on an emotional support Tarantula. First off, bugs are icky, and secondly, people do have phobias. Unique support companions can also cause issues for the crew. An animal like a peacock behaves differently than a dog which can be problematic in flight. Add on to that general unrest from other passengers and flight can become very complicated. Southwest has put up with this situation for some time but is now choosing to act. In order to safeguard its flights the airline has banned all animals it classifies as “exotic”. This means anything short of a cat, dog, or miniature horse will not be allowed on flights.
Southwest’s Senior VP of Hospitality and Operations, Steve Goldberg, addressed the issue in a recent interview. “We wish to provide passengers and staff a safe and comfortable flying experience,” he said, “We also want to ensure that we set clear guidelines that are easy to understand.”
Am I the only person who didn't hear about the woman who was not allowed to take her "Emotional Support Peacock" on a United Airlines flight, in January? pic.twitter.com/TGYQBEKBLh
— SP_NYC (@239_nyc) April 2, 2018
The mandate has garnered a lot of attention as many people did not realize how many different types of support animals there were. Photos of some innovative support companions like Daniel the Emotional Support Duck have already graced social media. Daniel is a support duck who famously wears red shoes. Twitter users have also been passing around pictures of an emotional support peacock who was denied entry on a flight recently. “Am I the only one who did not know about emotional support peacocks?” one user posted.
The posts have led to many discussions on the topic. It is easy to see the issue both ways. Emotional support animals are important but where exactly should the line be drawn. As far as matters of safety and comfort are concerned, relegated support animals to dogs and cats is a wise choice to make. Snakes on a plane is never a good idea.