A woman travelling on Wednesday prior to the Thanksgiving holiday was forced to leave her plane when her pet pig caused a disturbance on the plane. On a US Airways flight, passengers were shocked to find that they were going to be travelling companions to a large pot-bellied pig. The animal was brought on to the flight as an emotional support animal, a practice supported by the United States Department of Transportation’s guidelines. Neither owner nor pig reached their destination on that particular flight, however, when they were asked to leave before take off. This leaves many people believing that pigs may fly, but not on US Airways.
Air travel is one of those nerve wracking ordeals for many people and it can only be made worse during the holidays. In what feels like a hostile environment of people rushing and being cranky about their flights, a service animal can be a welcome source of comfort for the nervous and anxious. Most people are used to seeing service dogs, but they might be surprised to see a pot-bellied pig on a leash. Nevertheless, pigs are considered a viable substitute for those people who are allergic to dogs. They are intelligent animals and can be just as invaluable as canine companions are as service animals. That is perhaps why the pigs owner felt comfortable taking the pig flying, though US Airways ended up disagreeing.
The female passenger travelling out of Bradley International Airport in Connecticut was well within her rights to have the pig as her travelling companion. The only guidelines from the Department of Transportation that could have precipitated her departure were if the pig was disruptive to the flight and its passengers. US Airways staff deemed that the poor pig was disruptive when it started pacing up and down the aisle on its leash and then had an unfortunate moment of incontinence. Eyewitness reports noted that the owner struggled to clean up the mess while holding on to the animal and was subsequently asked to leave the plane.
At an estimated 50 to 70 pounds, the pig had to be carried down the aisle on its owner’s shoulder, prompting at least one passenger on the US Airways flight to assume it was a duffel bag. Jonathan Skolnik said the pig looked like a piece of luggage as it was carried to its seat, which happened to be right next to him. He was duly surprised when it turned out to be a porcine pet who was tethered to an armrest and allowed to stand on the floor. Skolnik said that he was “terrified” at the thought of having to travel with a pig for the rest of the flight. Lucky for him it was only a pig and not a monkey or a miniature horse, both of which are allowed according to Department of Transportation rules.
It is perhaps understandable why someone would want a sympathetic, loving companion while travelling over the holidays. Many might be surprised at the woman’s choice of a pig to fill that role. It is an unfortunate thing that she and her pig were forced to leave their flight, thereby delaying their plans for some time. Luckily, she had her emotional support animal by her side for that ordeal. US Airways, on the other hand, has its own problems to deal with as the numerous pig related puns are tossed their way be media and the public. “When pigs fly” is the old saying, but US Airways may be wishing that the pig had flown on Wednesday so they would not have to deal with everyone’s attempts at humor.
By Lydia Bradbury
Photo by Audrey – Flickr License