In a bizarrely ironic twist of fate, French bulldog emotional support dogs, dressed in tutus were offloaded a Norwegian Air flight from Gatwick to Austin, Texas because the captain took the decision that they were showing signs of distress in the cabin thereby threatening the safety of the passengers and crew. The paying customers to whom their support was meant to be directed were also offloaded at the gate.
Airlines are generally supportive of the concept of emotional support animals. The Russian airline, Aeroflot, is one of the most permissive accepting polecats, ferrets, meerkats, pygmy hedgehogs and marmosets!
Bearing in mind that Arabs in the Middle East like their birds of prey, airlines in the Middle East vary in their policies on birds of prey in cabins but Qatar Airways allows a maximum of six falcons in economy class while Etihad permits two falcons per seat in first and business class.
In the past miniature horses have been allowed on aircraft as emotional support animals. In one instance, in 2014, a woman was forced to leave an American flight when her pig defecated in the aisle and squealed. She tried to clear up the mess and talked to him like a person.
On another occasion in 2015, Jodie Smalley of Duvall in Washington state took a flight home for Christmas with her turkey. Unlike other turkeys in Washington state hers survived Christmas and went home wearing a nappy.
I am certain that the concept of emotional support animals has grown hugely in popularity over recent years which has obliged airlines to comply with requests although there are limits. I also feel sure that other passengers probably derive some fun from the animals’ presence on board. Has the world become more needy than in the past. Why this surge in emotional support?