Yesterday, A Norwegian Boeing 787, due to fly from London Gatwick to Austin, Texas was delayed by an hour and a half because of emotional support dogs. The dogs, which were reportedly dressed in tutus, became distressed once on board the aircraft, so the pilot made the decision to have them and their owners removed.A Norwegian flight out of Gatwick yesterday was delayed by a handful of unruly passengers wearing tutus. Photo: Barbara L. Hanson via Flickr | Norwegian Airlines
An unusual situation delayed passengers flying Norwegian from London Gatwick to Austin, Texas yesterday.
According to reports by the BBC, a number of French Bulldogs were brought on to the flight with passengers to act as emotional support dogs.
They were being carried in the passengers’ hand luggage, but became distressed before the aircraft departed.
To top it all off, passengers aboard the flight have said that the French Bulldogs were also wearing tutus.
When the dogs became distressed, the Norwegian pilot made the decision to offload them and their owners for the safety of the flight.
“Flight DI7181 from Gatwick to Austin had not yet departed when the captain took the decision to offload emotional support dogs and their two owners at the gate due to the dogs showing signs of distress in the cabin,” a Norwegian spokesperson said in a statement.
Guide dogs, for people who are blind, deaf, or suffer from some other sort of disability, are a common sight.
Because of the important role they play in the everyday lives of their owners, guide dogs are allowed in many places that normal pets aren’t.
This includes shops, restaurants and even planes. But emotional support dogs are a more recent and slightly different phenomenon.
In the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of dogs being brought aboard aircraft in an emotional support capacity.
Specifically, emotional support dogs help people suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and PTSD. Flights can be a very stressful ordeal for people with these conditions.
But it’s not just dogs which work in this capacity. There has also been an increase in the number of people bringing animals such as cats and even a peacock on board flights for emotional support.
Remarkably, Southwest announced back in 2018 that guide horses, under 86 cm/34 inches, were allowed on their flights.
Why are emotional support animals controversial?
Emotional support animals have received their fair share of criticism from passengers and airlines alike.
A number of US airlines tightened their rules around what can be classed as an emotional support animal, as well as the paperwork needed for them to fly, back in 2018.
Many passengers don’t see emotional support animals as a medical necessity. There have also been a number of incidents involving emotional support animals attacking other passengers aboard flights.
Stories like the one aboard yesterday’s Norwegian flight certainly don’t help the cause, especially as the dogs were dressed in tutus and were clearly put in a stressful situation by their owners.
For the sake of people who actually need emotional support animals, and to ensure there’s no more fodder for the ‘world’s gone mad’ brigade, there needs to be a much stricter process for registering them.