“We explained this to the customer on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport,” United explained in a statement to NBC News.
United elaborated on its policy concerning support animals, noting that comfort creatures also need to be properly vetted according to government and industry standards. Peacocks need not apply:
“We know that some customers require an emotional support animal to assist them through their journey,” the airline said. “In order to ensure we provide the best service to everyone onboard our flights, consistent with government rules we currently require these customers to provide documentation from a medical professional and at least 48 hours advance notice.”
It is unknown what aspect of a peacock is the most emotionally comforting, and how they exude calm for an anxious flyer. They're said to be pretty moody, especially judging by the plethora of "Angry Peacock" videos on YouTube. Maybe their brilliant plumage puts paranoid travelers into a state of hypnosis?
In any case, the bird may have dodged a bullet, as United has a pretty terrible track record with jettisoning animals.