Traveling with a Peacock

A female passenger on a United flight bought a seat for her peacock, claiming it to be an emotional support animal. She was prevented from boarding the flight, in a nod to common sense and out of respect for other passengers. Thank God.

What I know about peacocks comes from reading Flannery O’Connor, and from the trip I made to her farm outside Milledgeville, Georgia, with my friend Phyllis. Peacocks shriek at random moments, sounding as if a human is being disemboweled — you can hear the shrieks from a long way away. They are nasty, snarky creatures, not a bit friendly. And they poop copious amounts, and all over the place, coating everything within range in a crusty foul smelling layer. Does that sound like an acceptable airline passenger to you?

Without venturing a comment on who would find such a beast emotionally supportive — O’Connor loved her birds but certainly would have never said that — I’m all in with airlines cracking down on people trying to board planes with random animals. I’m not a big animal lover and don’t look to them for support. I understand that for some people, traveling with an animal is crucial. But a peacock, or a diapered duck, or a potbellied pig? Come on folks. Try a stuffed animal, or a little Xanax, or a stiff Scotch. Air travel is stressful enough with a screeching peacock lining up to board right behind you.

8 thoughts on “Traveling with a Peacock

  1. Bravo to United for refusing to board this idiot’s peacock, especially after she had been told no three times before she came to the airport! After our morning at Flannery O’Connor’s farm and listening to the two peacocks squawking at a distance, I can’t imagine being on a plane with one! We have this problem at the gardens where I volunteer also. Service animals are permitted, but the “emotional support” ones are dicey. Recently we had a dog whom the visitor insisted was a support dog. No papers or badge. It was on an expandable leash, darting here and there. She was asked to control it and we let her go……until it snapped at another visitor. Then goodbye dog and owner! Common sense indeed.

  2. for Phyllis: The two peacocks we saw — and heard — were penned up, but in Flannery’s era a much larger number of birds had free run of the farm. In other literature about Flannery and the birds, I read about the copious amount of bird poop that adorned everything they perched or walked on, including those front steps we walked up to get to the screened porch. Flannery loved those birds, but surely would never have tried to take one on an airplane. Not surprised that Brookgreen has had trouble with this.

  3. for Katie: This wasn’t something I saw directly, only read about. The incident happened at Newark International Airport. No idea what the woman did, but neither she nor the bird got on the plane.

  4. I read somewhere that she got friends to drive her cross country. Yesterday’s news (which showed the peacock as exhibit A) had details about the new guidelines United and other airlines hope to adopt: For “emotional support” animals you must have proof from a vet that the animal is “certified,” trained, and safe to be around others in close quarters, and from an MD or therapist that the animal is truly necessary for the person’s well-being. Even so, there are other restrictions on size, temperament, etc. This should help take care of the loonies!

  5. I saw it on the news last night. It was hysterical! The woman looked like she was in ‘Ravenclaw,’ a house in Harry Potter. But in Rawling’s books they have owls.

  6. for Phyllis: Oh great. Can you imagine being in a car with a peacock for any length of time? I’m thinking of the shrieks, and the indiscriminate pooping. Hard to potty train a peacock. You know I loved Visiting Flannery’s farm, but I can’t imagine those two birds we saw penned up multiplied by 20 or 30 and having free run of the place. I read that Flannery’s mother was not happy about the birds’ decimating her gardens — evidently they peck at flowers.

  7. for Katie: Honestly, the length to which some people go to “express their individuality” astonishes me. Wondering if you have the emotional support animal issue at the hospital? Trying to imagine a pot bellied pig walking into the ICU.

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