The peacock in the next seat
The New York Times
“One day, we may all owe a debt of gratitude to Dexter the peacock,” said David Leonhardt. A woman recently tried to board a United Airlines flight with Dexter, whom she insisted was her “emotional support animal.” Given the size and untrainable nature of peacocks, the airline turned her down—and announced tighter new guidelines for comfort animals. In the past two years, there’s been a surge of animals brought on planes by passengers insisting they couldn’t fly without them, including pigs, monkeys, turkeys, snakes, and untrained dogs. Believe it or not, Delta flew 250,000 service and emotional support animals last year. Many of these animals are unfit to sit in a passenger seat and have disrupted flights by urinating and defecating, barking, biting, and fighting with other support animals. This could only happen in a culture that “too often fetishizes individual preference and expression over communal well-being.” True service animals for people with disabilities—such as highly trained guide dogs for the blind—are, of course, legitimate. But people are abusing that accommodation to bring peacocks, snakes, and untrained dogs on planes—regardless of the discomfort to other passengers. Whatever happened to “basic decency”?