Christopher Elliott writes about a girl flying on Sun Country to and from Los Angeles. in both directions see what seated near a passenger traveling with a dog. The young girl “suffers from pet allergies.”
She apparently didn’t say anything on the outbound flight, and suffered from her allergies. She spoke up to the flight attendant on the return flight, and got assistance in changing seats.
Sounds like a good solution and problem solved, but instead it becomes the basis for a humans versus animals in the sky piece, with passengers being treated badly by airlines. And for the obligatory Animal Farm reference…
Elliott acknowledges this is almost a non-issue, with over 800 million passengers a year the Department of Transportation received 23 complaints about animals on planes last year (no information given about the validity of the claims).
Elliott seems to think that a passenger with an allergy shouldn’t have to change seats, or other passengers ought not be able to bring their pet onboard (perhaps passengers who are moving should be required to drive cross country instead), rather than the passenger with an allergy having to move.
That seems unreasonable to me. The person with the allergy has the reason to solve their own problem. Forcing someone else to accommodate your problem is a recipe for conflict. It seems like internalizing the costs and solution with the single affected passenger minimizes irritation of others while solving the problem. Elliott’s preferred approach would only exacerbate already tense situations.
On the other hand, Elliott surmises that pets trump people because airlines generate fees for pets. This makes little sense — airline policies haven’t substantially changed compared to a decade ago where fees were on average only a third as much for travel with a pet in cabin. (A passenger’s pet counts as a carry on, has to go underneath the seat, but the passenger is required to pay as much as $150 each way for that pet.) On the other hand, the pet’s owner having paid shouldn’t have to move, and if they’re asked to that simply underscores the likelihood of creating conflict.
Airlines limit the number of pets that can travel in a cabin, and those with allergies can find out whether or not any pets have reservations for a given flight. For an allergy severe enough, where changing seats doesn’t seem like a solution, that passenger might consider changing flights or not traveling.
Lots of non-sequiturs in the piece like the pig that flew in US Airways first class fourteen years ago, and animals in restaurants and grocery stores.but in the end even Elliott is forced to admit the simple, elegant, best solution is just to change seats with another passenger. In other words, much ado about nothing.
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