Spirit Airlines accused of forcing woman to flush hamster

2018-02-11 by Ronn Torossian

ronn torossian Spirit Airlines accused of forcing woman to flush hamster

In one of the most bizarre headlines in recent years, a Florida woman is claiming officials from Spirit Airlines compelled her to flush her pet hamster down an airport toilet because the tiny rodent was not allowed on the flight with her. From there, the story gets even stranger. Because the woman, Belen Aldecosea, is claiming the hamster was an “emotional support” pet and thus should have been allowed on the plane.

No Pets Allowed

According to the Associated Press, Aldecosea, a college student on her way home for a visit, called Spirit Airlines more than once to confirm that it was okay for her to bring her hamster, Pebbles, with her on the flight. All good, the airline said, at least according to Aldecosea. However, when Aldecosea arrived at Baltimore airport, the airline officials told her she could not bring the rodent on the flight. There may have been other options, but Aldecosea says she didn’t have any, so, she says she took an airline employee’s suggestion and flushed the hamster down the toilet.

When pressed for details on why she was “out of options,” Aldecosea said she could not rent a car, and that she had to be home soon to take care of a pressing medical issue. Aldecosea, speaking to the Miami Herald, said: “She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet… I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”

Speaking to the media, a Spirit Airlines spokesperson admitted the airline made a mistake in telling the woman she could bring her pet but denied suggesting she flush it. “To be clear, at no point did any of our agents suggest this guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal…”

Aldecosea Pursues Legal Action

Aldecosea, of course, is threatening to sue over the conflicting information. However, many, at least on social media, think she has some things to answer for as well. There are some who don’t think animals should be on flights at all. Others are calling Aldecosea a killer that was unthinkably cruel to a helpless creature. Then there are those who are using this case, as well as other recent cases, putting forward the argument that travelers are taking advantage of service animal laws to bring their pets on flights for free. Most times, people try to bring dogs or cats on flights. Recently, though, a person made headlines trying to bring an “emotional support peacock” on a flight.

Most people say that was definitely crossing the line. Aldecosea says that incident inspired her to share her story. So far, that story is not being heard with sympathetic ears.

About Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations with Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 200 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities