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Flight Crew Told 10-Year-Old to Throw Pet Turtle Away

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Ten-year-old Carley Helm thought it was OK to bring her pet turtle, Neytiri, with her when she flew from visiting her dad in Atlanta to her home in Milwaukee. The turtle passed through airport security no problem, and they even made it on board the plane. Flight attendants told Carley to stow the turtle under the seat.

But then the flight attendants did an about-face (citing company policy) after the plane had already taxied. The plane returned to the gate, and Carley's sister, Rebecca Helm, insists that AirTran Airways staff told her to throw Neytiri away. AirTran spokesmen deny it.

"They told us to throw [Neytiri] away or get off [the flight]," Rebecca told "Today." So Rebecca threw the turtle -- tank and all -- in the trash at the airport.

Carley's dad, William Helm, came back to the airport but could not find the turtle. Turns out, another AirTran employee had fished the turtle out of the trash and given it to a coworker, who took it home as a pet for her son.

Carley was crushed -- and Carley's parents were steaming mad. PETA got involved, and suddenly a reunion was arranged. On Thursday, AirTran gave Neytiri the turtle a free ride in the cargo section back to Milwaukee to be reunited with Carley.

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What do you think of AirTran's actions?

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Christi June 25, 2010, 4:08 PM

It’s ridiculous! A turtle?? It’s not like it could explode like a grenade and shoot shards of turtle shell all over the place amid turtle guts.
That the flight attendants told a young child she had to throw what is obviously her pet in the trash and not even give an option to put it in another compartment of the plane is just stupid.
If I were the parents I’d be pretty ticked too.

Kelly June 25, 2010, 4:55 PM

Tht turtle riding on the plane wouldnt hurt anyone and they just traumatized 3 kids

Anonymous June 25, 2010, 6:46 PM

I looked into bringing my turtle on a flight one time. I think the issue has to do with bringing the animal into another state that doesn’t allow them. I think only a few states allow these red eared sliders that they sell here on the gulf coast and a few other areas. It’s because once they start to get big people release them into the wild or something like that. Plus, alot of states outlaw them because they can make kids sick if they aren’t properly washing after handling the turtles. The airline should’ve told them beforehand though…

renee June 26, 2010, 2:14 PM

pretty suspicious considering most airlines will let you take a dog in the passenger conpartment as long as it is in a kennel in your seat area. i will assume they did it so they could take the turtle for the emplyees kid

chrissy June 28, 2010, 10:55 AM

although the animal might not have been traveling in a regulation approved cage/carrier, another option should have been offered. any parent could imagine the heartbreak it caused that girl. i think something like a temporary placement in the cargo-hold would have sufficed. some people are just trying to do their job and keep it. the flight attendants probably noticed their mishap and tried to enforce the rules for their own good (who wouldn’t?). but i agree that a solution could have been found, had everyone thought long and hard instead of rushing to get the plane out of the gate again. poor kids!

Jaime June 29, 2010, 6:58 AM

They traumatized these kids because… they didn’t want a turtle on their plane? What did they think it was going to do? Turn into a TMNT? I mean, really!

MRhodes November 21, 2010, 5:17 PM

These airlines have become some of the most heartless run companies in America. Its Profits, & who gives a darn about the people paying for those tickets, filling those seats… “Just stuff em in & treat em like crap.. Even children”! The mentality we’ve come to in America’s Airline Business World.

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