Emotional Support versus an Aircraft Accident

In late November 2014, a woman was kicked off a passenger flight because her ‘emotional support’ pig caused a disruption … yes, a PIG. Now an ‘emotional support’ animal is not a service animal: a trained animal that helps a handicapped owner, e.g. a blind man’s service dog. An ‘emotional support’ animal ‘helps’ its owner by relieving the stress of flying by purring, being petted or some other useless activity. Sole stipulation? A signed letter from a health care physician, which means even Paris Hilton could carry Fluffy on her lap. If you’re allergic to Fluffy, then you – not Fluffy – are moved to whatever seat is available.
But let’s look at possible safety issues. An article in Aviation Week spoke to legroom on today’s airliners, an expanding (no pun intended) problem, for sure; Ashley Nunes wrote about the increase of seating by 25% in some aircraft. In reality evacuation tests to approve these numbers are ambiguous at best; the manufacturer’s evacuation tests aren’t performed to demonstrate emergency conditions, test subjects don’t cause logjams by stopping for luggage, there are no handicapped test subjects or children. What happens when Fluffy gets loose during an aircraft accident evacuation – or worse – multiple Fluffies all over the plane?
And let’s be honest: if flying stresses you out that much … take the train.

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