Wednesday, January 24, 2018

I Lived It: Delta Airlines Banned My Emotional Support Giraffe

The third most read article in the Anchorage Daily News this morning is a reprint from the Washington Post titled “Fur and Fury at 40,000 feet as more people bring animals on planes.”

I don’t really want to engage in a debate over whether animals should or shouldn’t be allowed in the passenger cabin of commercial jetliners. I realize this is a controversial topic and everyone's an expert these days! 

As far as I’m concerned, 747s can and should look exactly like a bus rumbling down a winding dirt road in the Andes mountains, rammed to the rafters full of goats, ducks, chickens, sheep, and other livestock braying, defecating, shedding, and kicking in the aisles.

I only want to take a moment to share the story of the terrible treatment I received from Delta Airlines, which tried to ban my emotional support giraffe on a 45 minute flight from Charlotte to Baltimore last year.

Geri is a 15 year-old neutered male ungulate from Chad who has been my constant companion for two years, ever since I was diagnosed with a rare psychological condition called gerisinephobia

Gerisinephobia's primary symptom is unfounded entitlement coupled with a deep fear of being without a giraffe at all times, combined with a total lack of self-awareness and an inability to function in public.

Armed with an online certificate electronically signed by Brant Branterson, Executive Director of the International Institute for Gerisinephobia Studies in Kalamazoo, MI, Geri and I arrived at Gate A-24 in Charlotte for early boarding. 

I’ve grown accustomed to curious and even impolite stares from passengers, but I’ve never been treated more rudely by an airline than I was that day!

The gate agent immediately questioned the necessity and practicality of bringing Geri on the flight, and asked me if I realized that the height of an airplane cabin is less than 8 feet. She unhelpfully pointed out that Geri is at least twice that tall and also just dropped a 7 lb pile of dung on the jetway.

I responded that I was perfectly aware of that fact, and that—OBVIOUSLY—Geri is trained to curl his neck downward during flight. I also noted that Geri is afraid of flying and sometimes poops in public when nervous. 

Who among us can’t relate?!

Reluctantly, Geri and I were permitted to board early, and were seated next to a lap infant, which is my biggest pet peeve on airplanes!

Geri was simply being friendly when he licked the sleeping baby’s face with his gigantic, rough, blue, 20-inch tongue. And he wouldn’t have devoured that fruit and cheese platter if the infant’s parents had been better able to control their child. 

Furthermore, the fact that Geri's left rear hoof punctured the window of seat 25C and the ensuing loss of cabin pressure sucked the mother's diaper bag out into the sky and caused every oxygen mask on the plane to deploy was simply Geri being understandably skittish at a perceived threat to his territory and having a perfectly natural reaction to an unfamiliar smell.

I realize there are blind people who actually need guide dogs, and Geri might not fit YOUR idea of what an emotional support animal should look like. 

Excuse me, but if I have to put up with your screaming baby and his tiny mallet legs kicking my tray table, you can handle my fourteen-foot emotional support giraffe busting through an airplane window at 40,000 feet.

After this terrible experience, I demanded that Delta Airlines give me 20,000 miles and sued them for intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

The lawsuit is still pending, but I am pleased to report that they did give me the miles.

Image result for giraffe images

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