Witnessing the bizarre rebuff in person would have shed more light on the most fascinating news story of 2018 so far. I have to wonder: How did check-in staff and other passengers react? Can I bring my emotional support cactus on a plane? What is the average wind-speed velocity of an unladen peacock riding on a baggage cart? So many questions, so few answers.
Ultimately, I can only imagine what unfolded on that winter morning in northern New Jersey. So, as I see it, this is probably what went down:
Charlene (the check-in attendant): Good morning ma’am, may I see your identification and boarding pass please?
Ventiko: Here you go.
Charlene: Thank you Ms. Vinteko. Do you have any luggage to check with us?
Ventiko: I do, and...
Charlene: Very good. Please place your bags on the belt in front of you one by one. I see you selected our “economy” fare, which means your first checked bag will cost $100 and any supplementary luggage will be $200 per item. Will that be cash, credit or reverse mortgage?
Dexter (the peacock): Aaaaaaa-aaaaaaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaa!!!
Charlene: Ms. Fentivo, I assure you these fees are in line with industry standards, and...
Ventiko: That wasn’t me, that was Dexter.
Charlene (in a soothing voice): Well, “Dexter” doesn’t need to get so worked up, now does he? Perhaps “Dexter” should take another Xanax?
Ventiko (pointing at Dexter on the luggage cart behind her): No no, he is Dexter.
Charlene: Mmmm, I see. (Long pause.) And will Dexter be joining you on your flight today?
Dexter: Yes. He is my emotional support peacock. He gives me so much positive energy in times of stress. We go for walks and drives together, he helps me with my work, he is just so inspiring! I couldn’t bear to leave him behind...
(Charlene picks up her phone, presses a large red button and speaks calmly into the receiver.)
Charlene: Bob, could you come over here for a minute please?
(Bob the baggage handler comes over.)
Bob: What’s up?
Charlene: Ms. Vasilevski here wishes to bring her pterodactyl on her flight.
Ventiko: He’s a peacock.
Charlene: Sorry, her peacock. His name is Hector.
Ventiko: It’s Dexter.
Charlene: Right. Anyway, Bob, is this kosher?
Bob: Sure is.
Bob: You bet. Been seeing a lot of this lately. Just the other day Larry in meal services saw a guy check in with a mongoose. Said he had a diagnosed phobia of snakes on planes. Had papers and everything to prove it. You know that flight attendant out of Boston, Diane something?
Charlene: I sure do.
Bob: She told Larry some lady had a hedgehog on a flight last week.
Charlene: What’s a hedgehog?
Bob: It’s like a cross between a porcupine and a wild boar.
Charlene: Dang! They let that thing on a plane?
Bob: Crazy, right? So I figure this pterodactyl should be totally cool.
Charlene: Makes sense. Should I double-check with Sandy?
Bob: Can’t hurt.
Charlene (picking up her phone again): Sandy, can you come over here for a minute please?
(Sandy the check-in supervisor comes over.)
Sandy: Hey Charlene, what can I do ya for?
Charlene: Ms. Gradenko here wishes to bring her emotional support peacock on her flight. Is that allowed?
Sandy: Well this is one for the books. Let me check the manual.
(Sandy reaches under the desk and with considerable effort hauls out the enormous manual.)
Sandy: Let me see here: Payload, payola, peacemaker, peach...nope, nothing here about peacocks. You should be good to go.
Ventiko: That’s great to hear!
Dexter (triumphantly): Aaaaaaa-aaaaaaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaa!!!
Charlene: Well I hope you both have a great flight. If you’ll kindly make your way through security, you’ll be relaxing on board in no time and…
Bob: Now hold on a minute folks, I just thought of something: How much does Dexter weigh?
Ventiko: About 12 pounds.
Bob: That’s too heavy. Gotta get him down to 10 pounds to board. It’s right there in the manual.
(Sandy checks the manual.)
Sandy: He’s right. Well done, Bob!
Bob (sarcastically): All those theory classes at baggage-handling school are finally paying off.
Sandy: I’m sorry Ms Gronkowski, but I’m afraid Dexter is too heavy to board. Perhaps he can remove a couple pounds of plumage?
Ventiko: Remove his plumage? Are you crazy? You’re telling me the only reason I can’t bring Dexter on a flight is his weight?
Bob: It’s also his size. With the exception of dogs, emotional support animals can’t be bigger than Mongooses. Look it up.
Sandy: Dammit Bob, you are so on today!
Ventiko: I can’t believe this. After spending all that money on a ticket for Dex, after all those calls to customer service telling them we were coming, and after all those hours spent training him to wink at me when he needs to poop, we still can’t board. This is an outrage! I’m calling my congressman!
Sandy: We sympathise, Ms. Gorbachev, but rules are rules. By the way, who is your congressman?
Ventiko: It’ll be Michael Grimm soon, and then you’re in trouble!
Sandy: Oh man, we are so screwed...