A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
July 9th, 2012
By Dan Miller
It recognizes that many of us will need lots more emotional support.
Life has improved greatly since the primitive olden days of air travel. On July 5th, the Department of Transportation published its new Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Draft Technical Assistance Manual in the Federal Register. Among the many other recognized disabilities is the need for emotional support provided by pot bellied pigs. Here is the DOT’s position on this matter of national great importance:
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. However if you have a reasonable basis for questioning whether the animal is a service animal, you may ask for some verification. Usually written verification is not required.
You may begin by asking questions about the service animal, for example, “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. You should also call a CRO if there is any further doubt as to whether the pot-bellied pig is the passenger’s service animal.
Finally, if you determine that the pot-bellied pig is a service animal, you must permit the service animal to accompany the passenger to her seat provided the animal does not obstruct the aisle or present any safety issues and the animal is behaving appropriately in a public setting. However, note that as a foreign carrier, you are not required to carry service animals other than dogs (except as noted in § 382.7(c) for codeshare flights with a U.S carrier).
If President Obama is reelected, having pot bellied pigs to accompany us during air travel will provide great and badly needed emotional support. Moreover, the demand for them is likely to increase sufficiently to create numerous shovel ready jobs for additional farm workers.
But wait; there is more. From the same authoritative manual,
You must permit a service animal used by a passenger with a disability to accompany the passenger on his or her flight. (§ 382.117(a)). In addition, you must permit a service animal to accompany a passenger with a disability to the passenger’s assigned seat and remain there if the animal does not obstruct the aisle or other areas that must remain unobstructed to facilitate an emergency evacuation. (§ 382.117(b)). The service animal must be allowed to accompany the passenger unless it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or presents a significant threat of disruption to the cabin service.
If a service animal does not fit in the space immediately in front of the accompanying passenger with a disability and there is no other seat with sufficient space to safely accommodate the animal and the accompanying passenger, there are several options to consider for accommodating the service animal in the cabin in the same class of service. You should speak with other passengers to find a passenger—
(1) Seated in an adjacent seat who is willing to share foot space with the animal, or
(2) Who is willing to exchange seats with the passenger accompanying the service animal and is seated in a seat adjacent to—
(a) A location where the service animal can be accommodated (for example, in the space behind the last row of seats) or
(b) An empty seat.
You must not deny a passenger with a disability transportation on the basis that the service animal may offend or annoy persons traveling on the aircraft.
I would not be in the least offended by a cute little pot bellied pig in the seat next to mine. Having heard that pot bellied pigs are highly intelligent, it would probably be possible to carry on a more entertaining conversation with one of them than with a Librul otherwise seated next to me. This may even provide grand opportunities to wean devout Muslims away from their irrational dislikes of pigs. They could learn that pigs can be very clean, friendly and even beautiful companions.
The manual may have been but probably was not written here.
NOTE: This is not satire. It is all true, or at least the part about the DOT manual is.
(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)
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