Emotional support animals: How an in-flight companion can help

British Airways passenger kicked off flight after smuggling ‘emotional support’ cat onboard

The traveller was from America, where emotional support animals are allowed on flights

Helen Coffey@LenniCoffey
Thursday 25 October 2018 12:40

A passenger was removed from a British Airways flight after it was discovered she’d attempted to smuggle a cat onboard, claiming it was an emotional support animal.

The unnamed woman was catching flight BA1477 from Glasgow to London Heathrow on 21 October when crew found the feline stowed in her luggage.

The cat, stowed in a box inside the passenger’s hand luggage, was only revealed because the woman was sitting on an emergency exit row and was told she would have to put her bag in an overhead locker, according to The Daily Record.

The traveller was reportedly American; US airlines allow certain emotional support animals to accompany passengers in the cabin free of charge.

However, UK airlines only allow recognised assistance dogs – for example, guide dogs – into the cabin.

A British Airways spokesperson told The Independent: “Cats cannot travel in the cabin but recognised assistance dogs are always very welcome and travel completely free of charge alongside their owners on board.

“Other animals will need to travel in the hold but will be just as comfortable in a carefully controlled environment.

“The transportation of pets is handled by our sister company, IAG Cargo. They have decades of experience flying animals and will look after our customers’ pets as if they are their own.”

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It’s the latest in a long line of incidents involving emotional support animals, which are frequently used by nervous flyers in the US.

Earlier this month a passenger was removed from a flight when she turned up with an “emotional support” squirrel.

Frontier Airlines, a US airline based in Denver, asked Orlando Police to escort the passenger (and the rodent) off the aircraft when she refused to disembark.

The Independent also reported on a United Airlines passenger who tried to board a flight to Los Angeles with an emotional support peacock called Dexter earlier this year. She reportedly offered to buy the bird a ticket, but was refused because he did not meet the size and weight guidelines.

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