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"Emotional support" squirrel and its owner ousted from Frontier Airlines flight

"Emotional support squirrel" kicked off plane
Woman brings "emotional support squirrel" on plane, gets removed after 2-hour standoff with police 01:10

A woman told Frontier Airlines she was bringing an emotional support animal along when booking a flight from Orlando, Florida, to Cleveland. But the airline says she neglected to mention a key detail: Her animal companion was a squirrel. 

Cats and dogs are allowed in the cabins of Frontier flights, but squirrels and other rodents are not. The carrier said police were called when the unidentified woman boarded with a squirrel and refused to leave the plane after airline employees explained the policy to her Tuesday night. 

Flight 1612 from Orlando to Cleveland was delayed nearly two hours as law enforcement arrived on the scene, asking other passengers to exit the plane as they contended with the squirrel owner, according to local media outlets. The woman and her furry friend were eventually escorted off the flight.

The scene was depicted in a video posted on social media by a man who also tweeted: "You can't make this stuff up."

As she is taken off in a wheelchair, the woman tells onlookers to "shut up" before raising her middle finger. Amid scattered applause, she gives a thumbs up and thanks those watching, the video shows. 

Frontier emailed the following explanation Wednesday to CBS MoneyWatch: "On flight 1612 from Orlando to Cleveland yesterday evening, a passenger boarded the aircraft with a squirrel saying it was an emotional support animal. The passenger noted in their reservation that they were bringing an emotional support animal but it was not indicated that it was a squirrel. Rodents, including squirrels, are not allowed on Frontier flights." 

The airline said in its statement that police were called after the passenger was advised of the policy but refused to exit the craft.

The online attention is reminiscent of that received by a woman's attempt in January to bring her emotional support peacock on a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey. 

United and other carriers have since restricted the types of comfort animals allowed on planes, and Frontier is limiting emotional support animals to a single cat or dog as of November 1.  

The airline industry has also been contending with missteps that had pets inadvertently flown to different destinations than their owners, and worse, the death of a puppy kept in an overhead compartment during a United flight from Houston to New York in March.

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