An Amercian college student has blamed Spirit Airlines' authorities for forcing her to flush her pet hamster down the toilet. Belen Aldecosea, 21, of Miami Beach, told the Miami Herald that she was misled by ticket agents of Spirit Airlines who assured her that she could carry her hamster aboard the flight to Fort Lauderdale from Baltimore-Washington International Airport in November 2017.
Also read: Baltimore-Washington International Airport
But once at the airport, Belen's pet Pebbles was denied entry onto the flight. She had very few alternatives with her family and friends in Florida hours away. She was also unsuccessful in renting a car. An airline representative finally suggested that she either let her hamster run free or flush it down the toilet.
Airline authorities, however, deny Belen's allegations.
Belen told the Miami Herald that she felt terrible when she was flushing the hamster down the toilet. "I was emotional. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall," she said.
Belen is now planning to file a lawsuit against Spirit Airlines for providing contradictory information.
Spirit Airlines spokesman Derek Dombrowski denied Belen's claims that she was forced to flush the hamster. He adds that the representative might have mistakenly given Belen the permission to fly with her hamster and that the representative "unfortunately, did misinform the guest."
Dombrowski said that when Belen arrived at the airport with her hamster, agents asked her to take a later flight so she can arrange other alternatives for her pet. He further said that Belen did take a later flight but no further incident was informed.
"We did offer the guest a voucher for the inconvenience, but we never heard back from her," he said.
Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Sari Koshetz told the Miami Herald that their rules do not bar hamsters on a flight. The container of the hamster goes through the X-ray while the owner holds the animal and walks through the metal detector so the creature is not exposed to radiation.
Individual airlines determine which pets can fly but major carriers including American, Delta and United do not allow rodents to fly with passengers, keeping in mind the safety and health concerns.
Belena says that flushing her pet was a better option than letting the hamster starve to death or get hit by a car. She took the decision only after trying six different rental car agencies. "I didn't have any other options," she said.
Last month, a passenger carrying a peacock named Dexter was denied entrance on a flight going to Los Angeles from Newark.