Emotional Support Peacock Rejected to Fly by United Airlines

The bird was denied entry on its flight this weekend, spurring conversations about the need for more concrete guidelines on the part of airlines.

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It goes without saying that flying is stressful. Whether you turn to a glass of wine to calm your nerves or a stack of magazines to distract you, there are all sorts of ideas you can implement to make your time in the air a little less taxing.

But in the case of a passenger traveling from Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday, it seems that there is a line for what you can do to put your mind at ease, and it arrived in the form of an emotional support peacock.

Yes, really. It seems that a seat had been purchased for the traveler’s feathered friend on a United Airlines flight only to be turned away at boarding. Why? The bird’s height and weight for one, and it seems that the airline had warned the passenger that this could occur “on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport,” according to a statement given to NBC News by United.

Related: A New Airline for Millennials Promises In-Flight VR, Organic Meals and Attendants Wearing White Sneakers


United went on to explain that its policy for emotional support animals requires that “customers provide documentation from a medical professional and at least 48 hours advance notice.”

United isn’t the only airline to implement rules like this. Delta put out a statement earlier in January that customers have to provide a doctor’s note attesting to the animal’s health and one for themselves as well speaking to the need to have the emotional support animal fly with them.

Delta noted that roughly 700 service or support animals fly on a daily basis, and that this particular peacock, outlandish though it may seem, is far from the most unexpected fauna to board an airplane. In particular, Delta said that “customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more.”

Related: Make 2018 the 'Year of the Business Travel Hack.' Here Are 4 to Get You Started.

To the people who have found themselves seated next to the comfort snakes and spiders, we salute you and are just wondering, how was that? And while we don’t want to cast aspersions on whatever strategies people use to calm down in tense situations, we also have some questions about what qualities a peacock has that makes it an ideal comfort animal.

Over the past few years, airlines have enlisted therapy dogs to help improve the airport experience for customers, but it looks like to make everyone, humans and animals alike, comfortable on their journeys, more specific rules are required.

Have you ever flown with or next to a comfort animal? Let us know in the comments.


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