Belen Aldecosea, 21, told the Miami Herald she called Spirit twice to check her dwarf hamster, Pebbles, was allowed on a flight from Baltimore, where she attends university, to her home in South Florida.
Aldecosea alleges an airline representative "suggested flushing Pebbles down an airport toilet, a step that Spirit denies", the Herald said.
The airline allegedly gave her the thumbs up several days before the flight, but when Aldecosea finally arrived at the airport on November 21 she says she was then told the animal could not board with her.
Aldecosea said that she wasn't able to leave the airport and book a later flight because of a medical issue.
The airline denies telling her to flush an animal down a toilet.
'I was emotional. I was crying. "I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall".
When Aldecosea showed up that day, she said, the first Spirit agent checked her emotional support pet in with no problem.
Airline passengers have raised concerns in recent years over what some view as exploitation of the concept of an emotional support animal, with a recent story about an "emotional support peacock" coming to mind. She says she tried to book a rental vehicle with six different companies but did not have any success.
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However, when she proceeded to the security checkpoint, she says she was stopped by a Spirit agent who told her she couldn't bring her hamster, even though it had been previously confirmed as permissible.
Derek Dombrowski, a spokesman for Spirit Airlines, denied in a statement to The Post that any employee suggested that Aldecosea hurt or injure the critter prior to the flight. "Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines", spokesman Dombrowski wrote in an email.
Nevertheless, the US Transportation Safety Administration has no problem with carry-on hamsters.
However, when the student arrived at the airport she said the airline refused to let Pebbles on the plane. She was offered a seat on a later flight and tried to rent a vehicle to take Pebbles back to her student accommodation, but no cars were available.
'Their container would typically go through the X-ray while the owner would hold the hamster as the passenger walks through the metal detector so the creature is not subjected to radiation'.
Individual airlines can set whatever guidelines they wish in terms of what pets they do and do not allow on board.
The student said she considered letting Pebbles run free outside but could not bear thinking of her hamster freezing to death or getting hit. So she did what she felt was the most humane choice. "I didn't have any other options".
She bought Pebbles after going through a cancer scare while studying at Wilson College in Pennsylvania - and was flying home after withdrawing from school to have surgery on the benign tumor doctors had diagnosed.