A woman at Newark Liberty International Airport recently brought a peacock to join her on a United Airlines flight, according to the travel blog Live and Let’s Fly. The passenger claimed that she bought an extra ticket to seat her emotional support bird, but United Airlines denied it from boarding the plane.
On January 19, Delta made headlines when they announced an update to their service and support animal policy, based on their report that “animal-related incidents” such as urinating, aggression, and biting have increased by 84 percent since 2016. The airline’s new rules require passengers with emotional support animals to prove that they have been well trained (and fully vaccinated).
With this recent policy update, United and other airlines may follow suit by enforcing stricter regulations of their own. Current policies at United mandate that trained service and emotional support animals sit in front of the passenger’s seat without obstructing the aisle. The passenger must also provide the United Accessibility Desk the appropriate documentation and at least 48-hours advance notice before his or her scheduled flight.
Whether or not the United passenger followed all the necessary steps to bring her emotional support peacock onboard, the airline may have had the right to ban the bird, as it could not have feasibly sat at her feet without “protruding into the aisle,” seat or no seat. To prevent conflict and confusion over situations like this in the future, however, it is possible that United Airlines may be next to update their policies on pets of all stripes and tail feathers.