After boarding a Southwest flight from Phoenix to Portland last night a passenger’s ‘support dog’ reportedly bit a child.
Southwest Airlines downplays the incident saying that the dog’s teeth “scraped a child’s forehead as the young passenger approached the animal, causing a minor injury.” In fairness the injury was minor enough for the child to fly. The animal and its owner were not permitted to take the flight after the incident.
— Todd R. (@TR411) February 22, 2018
Apparently “the girl tried to pet the animal.” We don’t know whether the girl asked the owner’s permission first. It’s never a good idea to approach animals you don’t know without learning (1) how they react to it, and (2) how to do it. A child’s movements are often unsubtle. You should approach at the dog’s level and give them an opportunity to smell and approach first.
Southwest suggests passengers weren’t inconvenienced by much of a delay on last night’s flight to Portland.
When you were a child did you ever take a school field trip? The bus ride feels like forever. One after another a kid will ask the teacher how much longer it’s going to be. “20 minutes,” they’d say. Each kid would get the same answer no matter how much time had passed.
Finally the first kid comes back up and asks again, gets told 20 minutes, and realizes something doesn’t compute. “Yes, but I meant 20 minutes from now” the teacher would say.
That’s exactly like Southwest’s claim that “the aircraft departed about 20 minutes behind schedule.”
What they’re really saying it seems is since the flight was already delayed by an inbound aircraft there wasn’t much more of a delay attributable to the dog bite.
Of course Southwest’s further claim that “the safety of our Customers is our highest priority” seems equally mistaken when clearly avoiding risk of liability under the Air Carrier Access Act, allowing any and all animals onboard that are claimed to be needed for emotional support, is the highest priority.
A dog that’s inclined to bit passengers shouldn’t be taken on a plane. There are plenty of people in close quarters. There’s a reason why non-emotional support animals are required to remain in a travel bag throughout their flight journey. This isn’t the first time in the past year a passenger has been bitten by a supposed support animal.
Delta has new rules for support animals and United has copied those rules. However they’re fairly weak sauce and require the owner to state that the animal is safe, rather than requiring the animal to be safe. And it’s not even clear the new rules requiring advance notice to the airline are legal.