Excessive Dog Excrement Forces Emergency Landing
I could not fabricate this story if I tried.
The excrement of a dog during flight reportedly resulted in an emergency landing of the aircraft operating as US Airways flight 598 from Los Angeles to Philadelphia on Wednesday, May 28, 2014.
Flight attendants supposedly ran out of paper towels while attempting to clean up a second mess left in the aisle by the large dog, which reportedly defecated three times during the flight — resulting in some passengers becoming ill, causing the diversion of the flight to Kansas City.
Once the aircraft landed, a cleaning crew cleaned the excrement from the aircraft before the flight resumed to Philadelphia. To the detriment of the passengers, the flight had already been delayed for approximately two hours on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport related to fuel problems; and this emergency diversion only contributed to arriving at the destination even later than scheduled.
“Wednesday on a flight from DTW to LA a twitchy woman got some big pads out of her carry on then took her purse dog out of the carrier and let it pee on the pads in the aisle”, posted FlyerTalk member jimquan. “No diversion resulted but I thought that was rock bottom.”
Could these incidents contribute to being the impetus which prompts the both the Department of Transportation and the Congress of the United States to tighten the rules and provisions of the Air Carrier Access Act pertaining to permitting “emotional support animals” on flights?
“…it was a ‘service animal’ of some sort”, noted FlyerTalk member nlkm9. “They actually had a little segment on entertainment tonite a few nites ago about celebrities who travel with ‘emotional support animals’ and talking about the websites that allow anyone to register their pet as one. Its a shame because there are people who genuinely need their service animals (hearing dogs, guide dogs, etc) but the situation is definitely escalating out of control…”
Passengers with allergic reactions to animals would most likely welcome further restrictions on what can legally be classified as an emotional support animal.
Whenever I have traveled as a passenger aboard an airplane and witnessed a service dog — not to be confused with an emotional support animal, as the differences are outlined by me here — it seemed clear to me that the dog is trained for a plethora of situations. I have never seen a service dog defecate or urinate on an airplane; nor have I seen one behave in a manner which imposes adversely on other passengers. They are there to serve their owner — usually someone whose vision is impaired seriously enough to require a service dog.
Emotional support animals are another matter. While some may offer legitimate comfort to their owners, it appears that — more often than not, and I have no statistics to verify — passengers are abusing the Air Carrier Access Act to bypass fees imposed by airlines.
Sarah Steegar — a flight attendant who is the author of the Crewed Talk weblog with a new article usually posted every Tuesday here on FlyerTalk — recently shared her point of view regarding emotional support animals: “It only took a few short months on the job for me to feel certain that the policy was being abused. The seeming ubiquity of ESAs becomes quickly obvious, and my annoyance was two-fold.”
Is part of the problem the penchant of airlines to charge ancillary fees in recent years? “Airlines can be a bit more flexible about your carry-on pet’s confinement if they want, and they do not have to charge so much for a breathing carry-on”, wrote Steegar. “It costs almost nothing for them to process a small animal in the cabin. It just comes off as greedy to charge $125 each way for a carry-on that happens to breathe. In this sense, I feel airlines deserve some of the blame for the explosion of ESA animals, too.”
There are several possible solutions to the issue regarding emotional support animals:
- Tighten the restrictions of the Air Carrier Access Act
- Reduce the fee to transport a pet and treat that pet as a pet — not as an emotional support animal
- Designate select flights where the passenger cabin is to be free of animals, if possible
- Restrict one portion of the cabin of the aircraft to passengers with their pets during a flight, if necessary
- Be creative: there have been flights for smokers only and for premium class passengers only — how about flights for passengers with pets only?
I know — the last suggestion probably has too many logistical problems to implement successfully…
…but hopefully, we can be creative in ensuring that as many people are as happy as possible when packed into what FlyerTalk member Dovster calls an “aluminum tube” for several hours at a time with regard to passengers and their pets — er…I mean emotional support animals.
In other words: what comes out in the end should appeal to as many people as possible — not disgust them.
What suggestions do you have to order to avoid situations in the future such as the emergency diversion which occurred with US Airways flight 598?