Texas State student: Airline told me to flush pet hamster at BWI

Texas State student: Airline told me to flush pet hamster at BWI

Spirit Airlines hit back hard against Belen Aldecosea's claim that she had no choice but to kill her "emotional support animal" Pebbles in order to get home to her family in Florida.

Aldecosea, 21, told the Miami Herald that a representative from Spirit Airlines suggested she flush Pebbles down a toilet so she can continue with her travel, but the airline denied this. Aldecosea says a Spirit employee told her to either let Pebbles loose on the airport grounds or flush the animal down the toilet.

After rebooking her flight for a later one, and sitting for hours in the airport, Aldecosea said she finally chose to flush Pebbles. An airline representative ultimately suggested that Aldecosea either let Pebbles run free or flush the rodent down a toilet, a claim the airline vehemently denies.

'I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet. When that turned out to be dodgy information, Aldecosea said she panicked. "I was emotional. I was crying".

The airline said that it mistakenly told the woman the hamster would be allowed on the flight, but it denied that any employees recommended flushing or harming the animal.

The controversy follows a recent incident where a woman unsuccessfully tried to bring a peacock on a United Airlines flight after claiming it was an emotional-support animal.

However, when she arrived in Baltimore on her way to Fort Lauderdale, she said she was told differently.

She added: "This wasn't a giant peacock that could pose a danger to other passengers".

Aldecosa's attorney told the Miami Herald the hamster could fit in the palm of the pet owner's hand.


It all started when Belen Aldecosea made a decision to fly home with her hamster Pebbles.

Pebbles is only the latest of the unusual emotional support animals used by people scared of flying, which are usually no weirder than just dogs and cats. She was offered a seat on a later flight and tried to rent a auto to take Pebbles back to her student accommodation, but no cars were available.

During her first semester at a school in Pennsylvania, Aldecosea developed a painful growth in her neck, leading to a cancer scare.

"Hamsters are welcome in our checkpoint", TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz told the newspaper. Eventually, a Spirit employee allegedly suggested that Aldecosea release the hamster outside or flush it down an airport toilet.

"They gave me the wrong information a couple of times", she added.

Dwarf hamsters usually weigh less than two ounces - and the US Transportation Safety Administration has no rules against carry-on hamsters.

Most major United States airlines, however, don't allow rodents on flights over concerns about health and safety. The rep told her it was fine - an assurance that Spirit agrees was given to Aldecosea. "She [Pebbles] was scared".

Belen insisted she considered other options like vehicle hire or taking a coach, but was left with little choice.

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