Hamster flushed down toilet after being rejected from flight

Belen Aldecosea holds her pet hamster Pebbles

After a U.S. woman's emotional support hamster was denied passage on a Spirit Airlines flight, the 21-year-old college student flushed the animal down a toilet.

Belen Aldecosea was twice told by Spirit Airlines she could bring the animal, called Pebbles, on board - only for them to deny it access when she turned up at Baltimore Airport last November.

She told the Miami Herald: "She was scared".

The solution, she claims an airline representative suggested, was to flush it down a toilet at the terminal.

'I was emotional. I was crying. "I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall", she added.

Then, she claims, a Spirit employee suggested that she release the animal outside the airport or flush it down the toilet. Aldecosea and Pebbles were allowed to check in for their flight without a hitch (emotional support animals are technically allowed to fly at the discretion of the airline in question). "I didn't have any other options", Aldecosea told the Miami Herald.

She said she emailed Spirit Airlines about the incident and that they offered her a voucher for a free flight to selected cities. A Spirit Airlines spokesperson confirmed to Travel + Leisure that there was a miscommunication from the agents who spoke to Aldecosea, saying, "our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines".

However, Spirit denied that their employee recommended the option of disposing of Pebbles down an airport toilet.

The lawyer for a student who says Spirit Airlines told her to flush her emotional-support hamster down the toilet says she's still distraught over the incident but now has a replacement rodent for comfort.

The US Transportation Safety Administration has no problem with carry-on hamsters.

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

She checked in with the airline, bringing along paperwork that proved the rodent was an emotional-support animal. "Hamsters are welcome in our checkpoint".

The 21-year-old is now considering filing a lawsuit against Spirit over what she says were conflicting instructions about whether the pet could fly with other passengers.

But the decision whether or not to allow some animals and not others is a decision left, ultimately, up to the airlines. "It was like she knew I needed somebody", Aldecosea said.

She called Spirit ahead of time to ask whether Pebbles could accompany her on the flight, Goodman said.

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.

As Aldecosea walked to security, a second employee told her the animal wasn't allowed onboard.

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