Update: The Daily Mail has identified the woman in question as a "prominent Brooklyn artist" who goes be "Venitko," which, frankly, makes all of this much more believable.
Original Story: A woman trying to board a United Airlines flight leaving Newark Liberty International Airport this week was turned away at the gate after the airline refused to let her board with her emotional support peacock.
*Taps on microphone*
Her EMOTIONAL SUPPORT PEACOCK.
Fox News explains (or tries to):
Birds of a feather may flock together, but United Airlines recently shot down one traveler’s request to bring her emotional support peacock on a flight departing Newark Liberty International Airport.
Live and Let Fly reported earlier this week that even though the unidentified woman claimed that she had a second ticket for the peacock, the airline denied her request.
United said they'd told the woman that she couldn't bring the peacock onboard on three separate occasions before she ever even got to the airport.
Let’s set aside the fact that the “emotional support animal” in question was an exotic bird with considerable plumage, for one second. Note first that we aren’t talking about service animals here. We aren’t talking about a dog that helps lead the blind, or can sense when your child is about to have an epileptic seizure. This isn’t your black lab that’s been prescribed to you because of your frequent anxiety attacks, for which you take meds that Fido helps you remember. We’re talking about an emotional support animal that a person claims they need because…well, they feel like it. They aren’t physical or psychiatric assistants that have been certified by a doctor, and they aren’t trained to behave or respond like a service animal. That doesn't mean they aren't good or truly helpful, just that they aren't required to be.
In fact, based on the very simple legal requirements for an “emotional support” animal (seriously, all you’ve got to do is register it and pay a fee), it could just as soon be your ill-trained Doberman who decides to take a chunk out of your seatmate while he’s sitting there minding his own business, eating his peanuts and watching his in-flight movie. Don’t believe me? Here’s a guy who got bit in the face on a Delta flight just last year by some stranger’s “emotional support dog.”
That being established, let’s go back to the peacock thing. If you are so emotionally insecure that you feel the need to subject dozens of fellow airline passengers to the intruding presence of a large African bird, then just go live in the zoo. Seriously. Just set up shop next to the lions and tigers and bears, oh my. You’ll feel right at home. And maybe don't get in a confined metal tube with other people.
But apparently, I’m a latecomer to this notion of people having emotional support animals, much less those that aren’t Pomeranians or Golden Retrievers and the like. In fact, Delta has actually had to amend its emotional support animal policy to exclude “exotic emotional support animals including ferrets, insects, spiders, goats or animals with tusks or hooves” starting in March, according to Fox News.
Which tells me this must have actually happened before.
Is this really a thing? Are people actually so vain, so self-absorbed or emotionally stunted that they’re boarding airplanes with mountain goats and tarantulas? And what the heck do you tell the gate attendant?
“Well ma’am, you see, I’m having a really rough day, so you have to let me board this plane with my ball python or I might have a breakdown.”
Good lord, people.
But apparently, in 2018 America, we can’t just write off a woman trying to board a flight with a peacock as totally insane. Instead, United actually had to issue a statement regarding the incident, explaining why they wouldn’t let Psycho Sally get on the plane with her 12-pound bird and its 10-foot feathers.
"United is dedicated to providing convenient and comfortable service to all of our customers. We know that some customers require an emotional support animal to assist them through their journey. In order to ensure we provide the best service to everyone onboard our flights, consistent with government rules we currently require these customers to provide documentation from a medical professional and at least 48 hours advance notice," United explained.
We have truly lost what was left of our minds.