Arriving in American Airlines’ first class cabin, you wouldn’t usually be confronted by a long face. After all, this is a premium cabin and most people are happy to be there (unless of course they just got gifted an upgrade). However, this wasn’t a long sad face, it was a super cute furry face belonging to a miniature service horse called Fred.
Fred flew with American Airlines on a two flight itinerary from Grand Rapids to Ontario, California on February 7th. They then did the whole trip in reverse, navigating the airport, security, duty free and the flight itself like a couple of absolute pros.
Fred takes his first flight
Fred the miniature service horse arrived bedecked in an adorable outfit, including a bright blue all in one and some super cute booties as well. Apparently the get-up actually serves a purpose, which is to be respectful of people who might be allergic to horses.
Fred has never flown before, but his handler, Ronica Froese, had plans to travel to California from her home in Michigan. By all accounts, Fred behaved like a dream going through the airport, and boarded his flight in Grand Rapids without issue. His mom had even ponied up for a first class seat, so Fred had plenty of room on board. Froese told Fox News,
“I purchased two first class seats in bulkhead seating, I paid an arm and a leg for tickets but I did so because it was Fred’s first time and I wanted him to be comfortable, I wanted him to have the most room.”
The pair didn’t just fly once either. They had to catch a connecting flight in Dallas, Texas before arriving in Ontario, California, the destination of their trip. Froese reports that everything went swimmingly and that despite a few funny looks from other travelers, the trip was a complete success.
A model service animal
You might think taking a horse, no matter how small, onto an aircraft is never going to go well. But, despite the neigh-sayers, Fred was every inch a perfect service animal. Over the course of the trip, he didn’t put a hoof wrong, which is a testament to his handler and the years of training she has put in.
Back home, Fred lives in the house with his handler, and is even trained to use a giant litter box. Froese says that he is better trained than the majority of dogs, and that she had prepared him thoroughly to take a trip on the aircraft. She said to Fox News,
“I spent a year of my life training this horse extensively for what he has and I was totally prepared for everything.”
Fred is a testament to what a proper, well-trained service animal should be. If all service animals and emotional support pets were as well behaved as Fred, there might not be all the discussion about banning animals on flights that we’ve seen in recent months.
The blurred lines between emotional support animals and genuine service animals has led to a number of dangerous situations, including a flight attendant getting bitten. Even handler Froese agrees that something needs to be done, telling Fox News that,
“It is out of control, it’s a very abused process, there are a lot of untrained service animals on the plane that are not trained. It’s definitely an abused system, but the sad part is what the DOT is looking at doing, they are looking at excluding me as a handler from taking my horse on the plane.”
Froese is hoping that the DoT reverses its decision so that Fred’s first class experience won’t be his last.