Originally created 12/17/00

Pigs fly, the sequel 121700 - The Augusta Chronicle



In the "truth is stranger than fiction" department, the Federal Aviation Administration has sided with the pig.

The pig, named Charlotte, was a business-class passenger on an Oct. 17 US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Seattle. Charlotte's owner convinced the airline that the animal was a "therapeutic companion pet," and needed to be with her in the passenger cabin because her heart condition required her to have the animal nearby to relieve stress.

The airline complied and the pig flew free in first class, much to the dismay of other paying customers, who did not run through the galley and squeal loudly, as did the stress-relieving Charlotte. (Charlotte also relieved herself in the aisle).

The story of the pig flew round the world, showing up in just about every newspaper imaginable, from Bombay to Birmingham. The embarrassed airline said it would never let that happen again.

Ah, but not so fast, says the FAA. "US Airways and its personnel acted in a reasonable and thoughtful manner, based on a legitimate request to transport a qualified individual with a disability and her service animal," said an FAA spokesman.

But enough about that. In an unrelated incident, a judge has ruled that an airline can, indeed, charge an oversized passenger for two seats.

A 300-pound passenger sued Southwest Airlines because it forced her to buy two tickets, so that adjacent passengers would not be inconvenienced by her large size.

Whether the judge's ruling will stand is in question. Also in question is how a pig can fly for free, but how a large woman has to pay double. Go figure.