Why Your Emotional Support Peacock Isn’t Allowed on Flights

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image of male emotional support peacock

Animal companionship makes dealing with an emotional or mental disability easier. This is true not only of dogs and cats, but apparently for some people, of peacocks as well! As much as people love their ESA peacocks, unfortunately, an emotional support peacock is not allowed on flights.

It Only Took One ESA Peacock at the United Check-In to Show It’s a Bad Idea!

Do you remember a news story about a woman whose emotional support peacock was denied boarding a while back? As much as it sounds like a headline taken from The Onion, it really happened!

In January of 2018, a female passenger arrived with her emotional support animal (a peacock) at Newark Liberty International Airport. She had bought two tickets, one for herself and one for the peacock, for a flight to LA. However, United Airlines did not allow them to board.

A spokeswoman for United Airlines said they told the passenger that peacocks are not allowed on planes. According to the airline, there were safety concerns about the traveling bird. Moreover, the peacock did not comply with United’s animal size and weight policy.

All it took was this one incident for several air travel providers to change their emotional support animal policy. There were other reasons why the emotional support animal was denied boarding, which we’ll get into in a bit.

Emotional Support Animals Are Furry Superheroes!

People with mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety, don’t have an easy life. Getting up in the morning can be a herculean task for some. That’s where emotional support animals (ESAs) come in. They’re basically superheroes charged with making life easier for those with mental and emotional problems.

Several studies have shown how impactful animal-assisted therapy is. ESAs play that role in their owners’ lives by showering them in love and affection and standing loyal by their side. These comfort animals have helped millions cope with their mental health problems!

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal? Easy: With an ESA Letter!

To welcome an ESA into your life, you first need an ESA letter. A licensed mental health professional issues this document. It proves that you have a disability that warrants your ESA’s presence. This is the only valid document when it comes to emotional support animals!

Once you have it, you’ll be protected by two major federal laws. Trust us, an ESA letter has a bunch of advantages…

Important ESA Laws: The ACAA and the FHA

As someone with a disability, there are laws that protect you against discrimination. The main ones that apply to ESAs as well are the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

They grant you certain rights and privileges. But keep in mind they’ll only protect you if you have an emotional support letter! And, of course, if you comply with every ESA policy.

happy pilot and cabin crew giving thumbs up

The Fair Housing Act (FHA)

If you’ve ever had to rent a house before, you’ll know how hard it is to find a pet-friendly apartment. Fortunately, the Fair Housing Act is here to save the day. It gives you the right to live with your emotional support animal, even in no-pets-allowed housing!

Your landlord cannot charge you a pet fee for your emotional support animal to live with you. After all, an ESA is not a pet, but an assistance animal.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

Animals on flights have restricted access if they’re pets. But it’s another story if they’re service and support animals! Thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act, you can now conquer the skies with your animal best friend.

The Department of Transportation enforces this law. Fortunately, no airline can ask you for a pet fee. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t rules to follow. Most air carriers will ask that you notify them of your ESA’s presence at least 48 hours before departure.

Airlines Have the Final Say!

This is all fine and dandy, but keep in mind that airlines have the final say. Thus, it’s super important to follow their regulations to a T. You don’t want to end up stranded at an airport unable to fly to your destination, right?

Can Peacocks Fly with You in the Cabin? Unitedairlines.com Says No!

United Airlines has updated their emotional support animal policy since the peacock incident. Now, only domesticated cats, dogs, bunnies, and some household birds are welcomed. This means that there is a ban on turkeys, horses, pigs, and peacocks on United Airlines’ flights.

Common Airline ESA Breeds and Species Restrictions

It’s not just large animals that are barred from boarding a plane. Wild animals are, obviously, also banned. But did you know that some cat and dog breeds are not allowed in the cabin either?

As of June 2018, brachycephalic (or short- or snub-nosed) dogs and cats were no longer permitted on United Airlines planes. American Airlines and several others followed suit, adding this restriction to their policy. This means that Persians and French Bulldogs, for example, are on the no-fly list.

At the end of the day, these restrictions don’t mean airlines are out to get you. Most of the time, they ensure your animal’s and other passengers’ safety. Snub-nosed dogs, for example, have died in the cargo hold because of low temperatures and lack of oxygen.

emotional support dog and cat being cute

Your Emotional Support Peacock Cannot Fly with You!

To recap: an emotional support peacock cannot fly with you. United Airlines and other carriers have this ban. The vast majority of commercial air travel providers have done the same.

Why Dogs and Cats Really Make the Best ESAs

Landlords and airlines don’t want peacocks in their properties. Thus, having an emotional support peacock restricts your freedom, unfortunately.

You’re probably better off getting an emotional support dog or cat. Virtually no one has any qualms with cats or dogs. This means that it’ll be much easier finding housing where your ESA will be welcomed. It also means you can travel by plane with your furry companion.

Before Buying That Ticket: Read the Airline’s ESA Policy!

We can’t stress this enough: airline ESA policies must be followed to a T. Although the peacock owner did buy a seat for her ESA, she still wasn’t allowed to travel with it. Had she read the airline’s policy and talked to a customer representative, she would have saved hundreds of dollars!

All air carriers are different. So, make sure to read up on the ESA policies that apply to your trip. It’s best to spend some time learning what is and isn’t allowed than to be surprised at the last minute.

Our licensed mental health professionals advise getting a dog or cat (sometimes a bunny – but on a case-by-case basis). These animals are easy to train, don’t take up a lot of room, and are typically well-behaved. If you want to have a stress-free vacation or find a hassle-free rental, we recommend you follow their advice.

woman cuddling her emotional support cat

CertaPet Makes the Process of Getting an Emotional Support Letter Very Simple!

Are you ready to welcome an emotional support animal into your life? Awesome! CertaPet makes the whole process easy and straightforward.

The first step is to take our 5-minute pre-screening. Once we have your answers, we’ll connect you to a licensed mental health medical professional in your state. They will be the ones having an online consultation with you. If you qualify as an ESA owner, you’ll receive your ESA letter in no time!

Common Questions on an Emotional Support Peacock

Can a peacock be considered an emotional support animal?

How can I get an emotional support animal?

Can I take my peacocks on commercial flights?


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