Woman Removed from Flight for Bringing Pet Squirrel

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. deplane / diˈpleɪn / (v) – to get off an airplane

    The passengers were asked to deplane because the flight was cancelled.

  2. resumption / rɪˈzʌmpʃən / (n) – the act of starting something again after an interruption

    After the rain stopped, the host announced the football game’s resumption.

  3. without a hitch / wɪˈθaʊt ə hɪtʃ / (idiom) – without any problems

    The actors practiced really hard, so the play was presented without a hitch.

  4. crack down / kræk daʊn / (idiom) – to be stricter in enforcing rules

    The airport management cracked down on bringing illegal weapons.

  5. bar / bɑɚ / (v) – to disallow something

    The suspect was barred from entering the airport.


Read the text below.

A woman was forced to deplane after bringing a squirrel as her emotional support animal (ESA) on a flight.

Frontier Airlines allows passengers with mental or emotional conditions to bring ESAs inside its planes. However, the woman failed to comply with the airline’s policy, which states that dogs and cats are allowed, and rodents such as squirrels are prohibited. Despite being informed of the policy, the woman refused to leave, forcing the airline staff to call the police to escort her from the plane.

The other passengers had to leave the plane and wait for two hours for the flight’s resumption.

The incident happened at the Orlando International Airport, Florida, and the flight was headed to Ohio in the United States.

To her defense, the woman claimed that she informed the airline ahead of time that she would be traveling with an ESA. She added that she even got through the airport security without a hitch.

Meanwhile, Frontier Airlines asserted that the woman failed to mention that she would be bringing a squirrel. Nevertheless, the airline refunded the woman’s plane tickets and offered her a travel voucher that she can use in the future.

Incidents like these have forced other airlines to crack down on the types of ESAs allowed on flights. In March, United Airlines, one of the biggest airline companies in the world, changed its policy after a woman brought a peacock to a flight in January. The peacock was barred from the flight because it did not meet United Airlines’ animal size and weight requirements.

The airline’s new policy also requires passengers to provide proof that their ESAs are in good health and have been vaccinated.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with Frontier Airlines’ decision to deplane the woman? Why or why not?
• If you were the woman, how would you respond to the airline’s decision?

Discussion B

• Why is it important to comply with airline policies?
• What do you think airline companies can do to ensure that passengers will comply with their policies?