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Passengers startled as woman takes her horse onto flight

September 4, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A woman has taken a horse onto a domestic passenger flight, with the animal remaining in the cabin during takeoff and for the duration of the flight.

As many readers will surmise, the flight took place in the US, where such things are possible.

The carrier was American Airlines and the sector was Chicago to Omaha, which generally lasts only about 90 minutes.

A passenger took photos and posted the footage to Twitter, adding: “At this time we would like to begin boarding with any active duty military, families travelling with children under the age of 3, and horses…”

Another passenger, Amberley Babbage, was surprised to see a horse in the check in queue. She tweeted: “There was a small horse in line at the airport today and I’m so curious about it. #ORD”

It turns out the miniature horse is called Flirty and even has its own Twitter account, here.

Various animals are allowed on US domestic flights, including “emotional support animals” and service animals. There’s a difference.

Flirty the horse is classified as a service animal.

Above: Emotional support dog travelling on another flight

The US Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as one that has been trained to perform work or tasks to help a person with a disability.  Emotional support animals, on the other hand (also called therapy or comfort animals) have not been trained to perform such work or tasks.  Instead, they provide a benefit just by being present.

Under the ADA, only two animals can qualify as service animals. A dog or a miniature horse. The latter seems a bit bizarre, but that’s what the law says. Service animals are allowed to accompany their owners pretty much anywhere the owners go, though they are not allowed in swimming pools.

Emotional support animals, however, are present just for their owner’s wellbeing. Fines on airlines for refusing a legitimate support animal can run as high as USD 150,000.

Recent abuses of the emotional support animal rules, by passengers seeking to bring peacocks, squirrels, fish and pigs onto planes, has triggered an airline backlash. The US Department of Transportation is now reviewing the emotional support animal provisions.

Spiders, scorpions and reptiles were outlawed as emotional support animals in 2008, but passengers keep pushing the boundaries. Most airlines won’t allow monkeys.

Dangerous animals, such as tigers, boars and baboons, are banned – but fierce dogs sometimes fly and at least one hapless airline passenger has been attacked and mauled by a pit-bull while just sitting in his seat minding his own business

Written by Peter Needham

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