Ed Driscoll

Monty Python's Flying Emotional Support Pigs

“They say pigs don’t fly, but this one came close,” an ABC journalist deadpans:

“But it turns out it wasn’t a duffel bag. We could smell it and it was a pig on a leash,” he said. “She tethered it to the arm rest next to me and started to deal with her stuff, but the pig was walking back and forth.”

“I was terrified, because I was thinking I’m gonna be on the plane with the pig,” Snolnik added, saying he guesses the pig weighed between 50 and 70 pounds.

But the flight didn’t take off with the pig. The woman and the animal eventually deplaned.

American Airlines, the parent company of US Airways, confirmed to ABC News that a passenger brought the pig aboard as an emotional support animal. After the pig became disruptive, she was asked to leave, a spokesperson said.

Click over to the article for the photo of the woman deplaning with her “emotional support pig.”

I know what you’re thinking at this point, because I was pondering it was well. Why was the woman allowed on the plane in the first place? Atop the Google search on what will likely fast become the three most dreaded words in the English — “emotional support pig” — is a 2012 article at CNS News (a spinoff of the Media Research Center and NewsBusters) is headlined “Feds: Airlines Must Let Passengers Fly With Pigs for ‘Emotional Support:'”

The manual states: “A passenger arrives at the gate accompanied by a pot-bellied pig. She claims that the pot-bellied pig is her service animal. What should you do?”

“Generally, you must permit a passenger with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal,” reads the manual.  “However, if you have a reasonable basis for questioning whether the animal is a service animal, you may ask for some verification.”

The manual instructs airline carriers and their employees to begin by asking questions about the animal, such as, “What tasks or functions does your animal perform for you?” or “What has its training been?”

“If you are not satisfied with the credibility of the answers to these questions or if the service animal is an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you may request further verification,” the guidebook states.  “You should also call a CRO [Complaints Resolution Official] if there is any further doubt as to whether the pot-bellied pig is the passenger’s service animal.”

If the answers are satisfactory, pot-bellied pigs, which can weigh as much as 300 pounds, must be accepted aboard the plane.

So just to confirm: a bottle of Visine or Evian risks confiscation by the TSA. An emotional support pig? Have a nice flight!

When it comes to both the insane government regulations, and the YOLO woman who decided to test them out, this isn’t really how I pictured humanity behaving in the 21st century when I was kid.

On the other hand, it’s great to see coming passenger jet designs finally starting to resemble the Estes model rockets I built back then. To bring this post full-circle, who will be the first person to bring an emotional support pig onto a transonic airliner?

Update: Nerval’s lobster could not be reached for comment, nor its owner to remind people that he pulled this same basic shock the bourgeois stunt over a century and a half ago.

More: I take all of the above cynicism back, now that I have my very own emotional support pig — who’s following me on Twitter! Of course, feel free to borrow him whenever you fly.