Belen Aldecosea, 21, said she’d called Spirit Airlines twice to confirm that her hamster, Pebbles, a doctor-certified comfort animal, would be allowed on the Nov. 21 flight. Both she and the airline said Spirit told her it would be fine.
But, upon arriving at the Baltimore airport, Aldecosea said a Spirit Airlines employee refused the animal entry — and suggested she flush her pet down the toilet so she could get on the plane.
Aldecosea’s friends were hours away on campus. She contacted at least six car rental companies, but it was a busy Thanksgiving holiday week and none were available — and she was too young to rent one anyway. She was also in pain due to a benign golf ball–sized growth on her neck.
As for Spirit — the airline admits that a “reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal.”
Rodents of all kinds, as well as ferrets, spiders, snakes, and other reptiles, are not permitted on Spirit Airlines flights.
“Our records indicate the Guest took that later flight with no further incident,” Spirit Airlines spokesperson Derek Dombrowski told BuzzFeed News. “We did offer the Guest a voucher for the inconvenience, but we never heard back from her.”
It was after she accepted the later flight and was grappling with what to do that Aldecosea claims an employee suggested she either set her pet free outside…or flush it. Spirit said that no employee told her to flush the pet.
“It is incredibly disheartening to hear this guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life,” Dombrowski said.