In the future, you may have to get used to sharing an armrest or row with airline passengers who act like they belong in a zoo – literally.
The US Department of Transportation is considering new standards of flight travel for disabled people, which would allow ‘service animals’ like pot-bellied pigs, miniature horses and monkeys to travel with their owners for ‘emotional support.’
The “service animals” could be allowed to board flights with their owners, so long as they meet certain requirements, including training, service animal verification and can behave appropriately on an aircraft without taking up additional room. The owner must also provide a “relief area” for the animal, the manual states.
Cases would be handled individually by the flight staff and not all “service animals” would be allowed – including ferrets, spiders and snakes.
Pot-bellied pigs have the mental capacity of a human 4-year-old, can open doors and can be litter-box trained. Miniature horses are valued for their long lifespan and are good with the visually impaired; monkeys are easy to train to do a variety of tasks.
These mandates are proposed in the Department of Travel’s Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Draft Technical Assistance Manual. The proposal is open for public comment until October.