Animals

Will this emotional support chicken fly?

Misbehaving emotional support animals on airplanes ruffle lots of feathers lately and have caused carriers to tighten up their rules.

But the emotional support chicken that Popeyes let fly at its Philadelphia International Airport location (in Terminal C) is designed to get laughs and to fill stomachs.

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On Tuesday, Popeyes rolled out a special fried chicken meal (a 3-piece tender combo) that comes packaged inside a cardboard carrier that is shaped like a chicken.

On the box is a label that identifies the container as an “Emotional Support Chicken.”

The cocky campaign is a nod to the wide variety of animals – including peacocks, pigs,monkeys and spiders – that passengers try to insist must fly in the cabin for free because they are providing important emotional support for their owners.  

Popeyes is going for giggles with this emotional support chicken, introduced just in time for the stressful holiday travel period.

 “We appreciate how comforting emotional support animals are and wanted to create our own version,” said Hope Diaz, CMO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, “The good news is that our emotional support chicken is permitted to fly without any restrictions – one less worry for busy travelers!”

Stuck at the Airport is declaring Popeyes’ emotional support chicken a top contender for the airport amenity of the week. 

Delta tightens leash on emotional support animals- again.

Delta Air Lines is issuing a new round of rules for service and support animals . 

Don’t be surprised if these rules are adopted soon by other airlines. 

Delta’s new policy goes into effect December 18. Under the new rules, service and support animals under four months of age will be banned from any Delta flight.

Delta will also no longer allow emotional support animals – of any age – to be booked on flights longer than eight hours.

If you purchased a ticket before December 18th and have requested to travel with an emotional support animal, Delta will still allow you and your emotional support animal to travel.

Come February 1, 2019, however, emotional support animals will not be accepted on flights longer than eight hours, regardless of booking date.  

“These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs, such as veterans with disabilities, to travel with trained service and support animals, ” said John Laughter, Senior Vice President – Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance.

Delta said the updated policy comes on the heels of an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals from 2016-2017. 

Those incidents include urination/defecation, biting and an attack by a 70-pound dog. Delta also notes that its updated support and service animal age requirement aligns with the vaccination policy of the CDC and the eight-hour flight limit for emotional support animals is consistent with principles outlined in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act.

The full policy, including rules about what kind of animals can be considered service or emotional support animals, is on the Delta website

The new rules don’t apply to animals traveling in the cabin inside closed carriers as pets on paid tickets. 

Move over therapy dogs, New Orleans Int’l Airport has ‘gators

 

You’ve likely seen or heard about the therapy animals that visit airports around the country to help de-stress travelers.

Most airports have dogs, but San Franciso International Airport’s team includes a pig, Denver International Airport’s team boasts a cat and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport regularly hosts minature horses.

What’s next?

How about alligators?

On Fridays at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport the Audubon Nature Institute brings live alligators to the baggage claim area and encourages passengers to pose for an “MSY Gator Selfie.”

Brave travelers can also touch the baby gators, which are one to three years old and up to three feet long, according to an airport spokeswoman.

MSY airport does have a dog therapy team – the MSY K-9 Krewe (a nod to the krewes, or groups, that organize parades and balls in New Orleans) – but alligator visits and gator selfies are another way the airport is working to enhance the passenger experience.

Bees delay a plane in South Africa

As I reported in a recent At the Airport column for USA TODAY, airports deal with all sorts of unwanted wildlife, from worms to whales.

At King Shaka International Airport in Durban, South Africa, the unwanted wildlife was a swarm of bees.

On Sunday, Mango Airlines reported that a swarm of  about 20,000 bees was discovered building a nest inside on of its airplane engines, causing a delay to several flights.

Bee removal experts were called in and successfully gathered up and removed the bees. According to South Africa’s News 24 website,  the bees were taken a beekeeper’s home and will be likely be transferred to an area macadamia farm or to another beekeeper.

Incidents of bees swarming airplanes aren’t all that unusual. In March, 2017, an American Airlines flight from Miami to New York’s JFK airport was delayed by about four hours due to a swarm of bees that had landed on the side of an airplane.

Bee careful out there.

Miami Int’l Airport and the Miami Hound Machine

The ‘Miami Hound Machine’ – a team of therapy dogs – is coming to Miami International Airport.

Miami International Airport’s new therapy dog program, charmingly called the Miami Hound Machine, is making its debut today.

The team’s five volunteer K-9 Ambassadors – Abbey, Belle, Dash, Donovan and Pico – and their owners will be on site today with airport officials for a press conference. The pups will then go to work inside Concourse D, visting with passengers and being cute.

Members of the Miami Hound Machine are all certified therapy dogs from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and will be on duty in the MIA terminals during peak travel periods.

Therapy dogs at airports are a growing trend. So are the types of animals on the therapy dog teams – San Francisco International Airport’s Wag Brigade has a pig (Lulu); Denver International Airport’s CATS program (Canine Airport Therapy Sqaud) has a cat named Xeli, and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) often has a small herd of miniature horses stop by.

Have you encountered a member of an animal therapy team at an airport? Thumbs up or down?