Squirrels on a Plane

Sometimes, when I’m feeling down and need some emotional support, like so many others I turn to my “best friend,” my… squirrel.

Just having my squirrel around—having his little head on my lap, scratching his ears, maybe going outside to bury some acorns together—well, pretty soon I’m feeling like my old self again.

Okay, maybe not. But I’m trying to understand the person who brought “an emotional support squirrel” onto a Frontier Airlines flight yesterday, according to an AP article in USA Today.

They were asked to get off the plane, but the passenger refused, as the squirrel was a Frontier Miles Elite Status member. The police “escorted” her into the main terminal.

I’m torn, here. Couldn’t they have hung a bird feeder above her seat, to keep the squirrel occupied throughout the flight? Or, if that’s problematic, some suet? I can tell you that the squirrel would have been busy matter how long the flight, even non-stop to Ulan Bator.

Turns out there’s some airline regulation against “amphibians, ferrets, rodents and non-household birds.”

It seems like overkill. It’s not like anybody would try and bring an “emotional support peacock” onboard, except this past January on a United flight from Newark to L.A. She was stopped in the terminal. A United representative explained that she had been told “three times” not to bring the peacock, named Dexter.

This doesn’t seem as unfair to me as kicking off the squirrel, for whom, tellingly, no name was reported. Dexter can fly on his own, and take wing to California. The squirrel could try, but we all know what happens to squirrels when they try and cross the road. Let’s put it this way: They often lose the ability to emotionally comfort us.

Of course, legitimate service animals should be welcomed on board, and that’s no laughing matter. And some emotional support animals make sense, too. But I don’t want to see someone sitting next to me at 35,000 feet petting a mongoose, especially when the snack cart comes around. You aren’t getting any of my pretzels, buddy.

No doubt the airlines will sort it out with their usual efficiency and wisdom, like when United put a passenger’s dog in the overhead bin and it died.

United seems to be slightly more friendly towards humans, whom they may drag off the plane, but only when airline employees need the seat. This is called “re-accommodating the customers.”

At least the guy wasn’t placed in the overhead bin.

Illustration by Isabella Bannerman

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