There was some monkey business on a flight to Las Vegas recently, but it didn’t involve any of the usual Vegas suspects like bachelor parties, showgirls, or gambling.
This time it was an actual monkey.
A Frontier Airlines staff member reportedly alerted Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport that a “monkey was loose or got loose” on the flight from Columbus, Ohio, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.
The report turned out to be more of a problem than the monkey itself. When the plane landed, the airline clarified that while the monkey was not in a carrier, and was technically loose in the cabin, it was an emotional support animal that stayed with his owner for the duration of the flight.
A flight attendant noticed the tiny marmoset sticking out of passenger Jason Ellis’s shirt and asked the passenger to provide paperwork proving it was an emotional support animal. Unfortunately, Ellis either refused or was unable to access the documentation proving that the 4-year old marmoset named Gizmo was more than a pet. The airline then asked Las Vegas police to meet them at the gate.
Melissa Nunnery, a spokeswoman for McCarran International Airport, said in a statement that “the passenger had all the proper paperwork to have the monkey on the plane with him.”
TSA officials, speaking with Las Vegas local news channel News 3, agreed and added that the animal had gone through the full TSA screening. A video shows a barefoot Ellis going through security with his emotional support marmoset, Gizmo, on his shoulder.
However, according to Frontier, Ellis neglected to alert the airline that an emotional support animal was being brought on board the plane.
Airlines have different policies when it comes to emotional support animals—which are not certified like service animals—but typically accept a doctor's note that affirms the passenger's need to have the animal accompany them.
Police found no evidence of wrongdoing, no charges were filed, and Ellis and his service marmoset were free to get into some real monkey business in Las Vegas.