When you think of an emotional support animal, you wouldn't be alone in immediately thinking of a dog or cat. These incredible animals can help to settle physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disabilities, but people have to apply for special permits so that they can fly with them.
So, you can imagine people's shock and surprise when someone rocked up to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey with an 'emotional support peacock'.
The passenger even had a ticket for the huge bird but, unsurprisingly, United Airlines didn't allow it on board. I reckon we can agree this was probably not a suitable animal to have next to other passengers.
An airline spokesperson has told Fox News: "This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport."
The passenger would likely have hoped to be covered by America's Air Carrier Access Act, which permits emotional support animals to travel with their owners on flights, as long as the pet has the right documentation, isn't a threat and doesn't interfere with others.
You can see the arguments as to why a peacock might not be a suitable animal to have in a confined space, 33,000 feet in the air.
People on social media couldn't believe what they were seeing.
One American airline, Delta, has recently tightened their policy on emotional support animals. The rule change was to prevent some planes being turned into zoos, where animals have relieved themselves on board or even sunk their teeth into other passengers.
A press release from the Atlanta-based company says: "The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across US air travel."
Passengers wanting to travel with an emotional support animal now have to give 48 hours' notice to the airline and provide documentation from a vet that confirms the pet is in good health and has all the necessary immunisations. In addition to all that, they must provide a doctor's note and proof of animal training.
United Airlines already has a similar policy but has told Fox they are seeking to change their rules following a review: "In our effort to better balance protecting our employees and customers while accommodating passengers with disabilities, we are reviewing our existing policy and plan to share more soon."
It's a bold move trying to get a peacock onto a plane - but if you're told no less than three times not to bring it, then it might have been a better idea to leave the majestic bird at home.
Sources: Fox News
Featured Image Credit: PA