'Friendly skies' now include flying barns

July 23, 2012 

Pet's name, age: Piggey Boy, 12

Breed/species: Pot-bellied pig

Owner: Sandi Dailey of Pasco

Background: He lets everyone know what kind of mood he is in with a grunt when he is upset, squeal when he is scared or can hiss like a cat and bark like a dog, Sandi says. He lives in a 12-by-12 foot insulated house.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

When I was a little girl I wanted to be an airline stewardess someday. I also wanted a pony. Now it seems that both my dreams have collided.

Fortunately, I'm too old for the nightmare.

Evidently, the Department of Transportation plans to allow miniature horses that qualify as service animals inside the cabins with their owners. Pot-bellied pigs, monkeys and the traditional seeing-eye dog are also included.

I first heard this story on Fox News The Five while frantically searching for an impromptu vacation flight to Maui.

"You've got to come watch this!" my husband called from the adjacent room as I sat at my computer.

My ticket search temporarily suspended, I listened in disbelief while the banter around The Five table included the future of airline travel.

"Just think," Bill teased, "you may have a pony or a pot-bellied pig as a seat mate instead of me," referring to the fact that he wouldn't be making this trip.

Sometimes, he can be such a ham. But apparently, this "flying barn" is no joking matter.

The service animal — either for physical or emotional support — can accompany the disabled person to their seat as long as the mini-horse, pig, dog or monkey doesn't obstruct the aisle.

And if it turns out that there's not enough room for four hooves and two human feet, flight attendants will ask the seatmate — you or me — to either switch to another available seat on the plane or share crowded foot space with the animal.

Gnashing your teeth — unless you're a dog, mini-horse, pig or monkey — will get you nowhere. Service animals rule, unless it's sharing the airplane's restroom. They have to promise to hold their 3.2 ounces — or more — for the entire flight.

However, there's relief in sight at the airport. Someone from the airline — and maybe this could be a flight attendant — will be required to escort the animal to a designated area for a potty stop.

Whew! I guess I should be ecstatic that my childhood dream to be a stewardess didn't come true.

Still, I can't help but wonder if flight attendants in our overly friendly skies may need to hug a pony now and then for emotional support.

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