American Airlines passengers were left stunned after noticing a miniature horse had joined their flight.
Evan Nowak said he noticed the animal, which had been brought onboard by a fellow traveller, while flying on an a service from Chicago to Omaha.
He posted the footage to Twitter, which showed the horse calmly sitting near the front of the plane in an aisle seat.
He added: “At this time we would like to begin boarding with any active duty military, families travelling with children under the age of 3, and horses…”
Another passenger, Amberley Babbage, also spotted the animal at check in, tweeting: “There was a small horse in line at the airport today and I’m so curious about it. #ORD”
The horse was later revealed to be called Flirty – and even has its own Twitter and Instagram account.
They wrote: “Flirty and I took to the skies, yesterday! It was a great experience and I learned a lot. Flirty was FANTASTIC and handled it all like a pro.
“That being said, I’m going to keep travelling by car, it’s just easier on Flirty. Flying will be reserved for emergencies and such.”
They added: “It’s just too difficult to make sure Flirty doesn’t inconvenience other passengers.
“Because my airport is smaller, the planes are smaller and don’t have solid bulkheads. Flirty couldn’t help jostling seat of the person in the last row of first class every time she moved.
“Once we got up to cruising altitude, she took a nap and was very quiet. But she had to rebalance quite a bit while ascending and descending and kept bumping the back of their seat through the curtain ‘bulkhead.'”
What is a service animal?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is classed as one which is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability”.
This can include:
- Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks.
- Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds.
- Providing non-violent protection or rescue work.
- Pulling a wheelchair.
- Assisting an individual during a seizure.
- Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens.
- Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone.
- Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
This is not the same as an emotional support animals which are not trained for any specific tasks.
Instead the job of emotional support animal is to be present for their owner’s wellbeing, especially to help with anxiety or depression.
According to the American Airlines website, trained miniature horses are permitted on flights as service animals.
In mid-August, the US Department of Transportation announced that miniature horses still were allowed to fly as service animals in all cabins of commercial planes, in a statement aiming to define the guidelines regarding protections for emotional support and psychiatric service cats, dogs and the tiny equines.
The announcement didn’t bind airlines to fly all service miniature horses by law, but did allude to penalties if carriers violated the new rule, WWJ reported. The Department of Transportation had not banned mini horses previously.
According to the American Miniature Horse Association, the animals often stand between two and three feet tall and weigh between 150 and 250 pounds, with an average life span of at least 30 years.
SOURCE The Sun, Fox News