A 21 year old student from Florida is considering suing Spirit Airlines after she flushed her emotional support hamster down the toilet at Baltimore airport after she says a Spirit employee suggested the action to her. The student came forward after hearing about Dexter the peacock.
Belen Aldescosea contacted Spirit twice to ensure she could bring the dwarf hamster, named Pebbles, with her. She was told no problem. She was on her way home to receive medical treatment.
After arriving at Baltimore airport November 21 she says a Spirit employee checked Pebbles with carry-on, but another employee followed her to the security check point and said she wasn’t allowed the hamster on board or in the cargo hold. The airline allowed her to take another flight 9 hours later to find an alternative.
Ms Aldecosea told media she spent hours trying to find a solution, but couldn’t. The college campus was 100 miles away, and she contacted 6 rental car companies, but was to young to hire a car, plus it was the Thanksgiving weekend. After not being able to find an alternative Ms Aldecosea says a Spirit employee suggested she let Pebbles loose outside or flush her down the toilet.
Student says Spirit Airlines suggested she flush her “emotional support” hamster down the toilet. So in desperation she did. https://t.co/Gcx8seOQia
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 8, 2018
She considered flushing more humane then letting Pebbles loose outside, risking cold and cars. “She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet. I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”
Spirit have said that they made a mistake in telling Ms Aldecosea that the hamster would be allowed. “Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines.” Also “[t]o be clear, at no point did any of our agents suggest this guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal,” according to Spirit spokesperson Derek Dombrowski.
To be clear, at no point did any of our agents suggest this guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal.
— Spirit Airlines (@SpiritAirlines) February 8, 2018
Ms Aldecosea said she had a doctors letter certifying Pebbles, and that Pebbles was bought after she developing a painful growth in her neck in the first semester of college. The growth was confirmed to be benign in November.
Ms Aldecosa emailed Spirit about the incident and they offered a free flight voucher to selected cities, which she turned down.
The TSA has no issues with hamsters being carried on, but it is at the discrestion of airlines.
Statement from Spirit:
“Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the Guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines. When the Guest appeared with the hamster at the airport, our agents offered and the Guest accepted an opportunity to take a later flight, so she had time to find other accommodations for the animal.
“Our records indicate the Guest took that later flight with no further incident.
“After researching this incident, we can say confidently that at no point did any of our agents suggest this Guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal. It is incredibly disheartening to hear this Guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life.”