A college student has accused Spirit Airlines of a number of missteps that ultimately led her to flush her emotional support hamster down an airport toilet.
According to the Miami Herald, Belen Aldecosea was on her way from Maryland, where she reportedly attends college, to South Florida to visit family when she arrived at a Baltimore airport to find that she was not permitted to bring her hamster, Pebbles, aboard the flight with her.
Aldecosea made a video about the experience that she shared with the Miami Herald, told the newspaper that she had twice called Spirit Airlines to make sure she would be able to travel with her emotional support hamster, and was told it would be no problem. But when she arrived for her flight, airline staff would not allow to bring the tiny animal on board.
The young woman was reportedly on her way to visit family due to a medical issue, and could not change her plans at the last minute. She also reportedly did not have time to arrange for someone to care for her pet while she was gone.
Aldecosea, 21, told the Miami Herald that a representative from Spirit Airlines suggested she flush Pebbles down a toilet so she can continue with her travel, but the airline denied this.
Nonetheless, that is exactly what Aldecosea did.
“She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet,” Aldecosea told the newspaper.
“I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”
A Spirit airlines spokesperson reportedly admitted that Aldecosea was given inaccurate information about her ability to bring Pebbles on the flight. But he denied that anyone suggested she drown or hurt the animal in any way.
“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,” spokesman Derek Dombrowski said in a statement to the Miami Herald.
Aldecosea is considering suing the airline, and has secured an attorney.
“This wasn’t a giant peacock that could pose a danger to other passengers,” her lawyer, Adam Goodman, told the newspaper.
“This was a tiny cute harmless hamster that could fit in the palm of her hand.”
Aldecosea told the newspaper that after she called the airline to complain about the incident, Spirit offered her free travel vouchers, but that she refused to accept them.