The Suitcase Lady


February 27, 2018, 9:45 pm

A small bit of sanity has returned to the world of airline travel. United has announced a tight new policy on animals traveling in the cabin.

Animal lover and owner that I am, I am not in favor of being seated next to barking dogs, terrified cats or a four foot long boa constrictor. It’s hard enough being seated next to children whose parents have convinced them that they’re the center of the universe.

The pet that drove United to change its lax pet policy on E.S.A.’s (Emotional Support Animals) was a peacock named Dexter. His owner, a performance artist who lives in Brooklyn, took Dexter to the Newark Airport and attempted to board with him. United took a stand and sent Dexter packing. He and his owner are now driving to LA and sending pictures of their journey via Instagram.

The E.S.A. scam began with a 1986 law forbidding discrimination of both physically and mentally handicapped air travelers. The intent of the law was good, but the implementation was not. Only a doctor’s note or email was necessary to get a “service” pet on board sans a carrier or $125 fee.

As the New York Times reported, “A cottage industry sprung up in service of low-level fraud. For $30 on Amazon you can buy a bright-red dog vest that reads, EMOTIONAL SUPPORT. With a quick web search you can find a therapist to diagnose you long distance. Fill out a form, and suddenly you’re certified as having an illness that requires animal attention.”

When in airports, my husband and I have often remarked, “There goes another emotional support animal”. We would be looking at some small lap dog with a big rhinestone collar tucked under the arm of its equally jewelry bedecked owner.

Admittedly, airport travel definitely will be duller without all those emotional support dogs, cats, turkeys and reptiles. But perhaps we are taking a small step forward to the return of the common good of both people and pets.

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