Yes, occasionally SWA transported real live penquins for Seaworld. They were accompanied by handlers, in the cabin in pet carriers and were usually boarded with much fanfare. Post 9/11 they haven't flown though but that may change...
Southwest Airlines hopes to fly penguins again
DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines is seeking the government's OK to bring back its popular SeaWorld penguin tours, in which two of the flightless birds are put on jets to promote the amusement park as a summer destination.
The promotion was shut down after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2000.
A few security concerns must be addressed before the Dallas-based carrier can resurrect the promotion.
Will the penguins will be subject to the same security searches as other passengers: stepping through metal detectors and even being wanded by federal screeners.
"One of the things that they mentioned was, `Would it be possible that we would be able to wand the animals?'" Melanie Jones, creative manager for Southwest, was quoted in Saturday's editions of The Dallas Morning News.
Ed Martelle, spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said: "That's a real question."
SeaWorld and Southwest Airlines have worked since the 1980s to lure business to parks in San Antonio, Orlando, Fla., and San Diego.
Southwest flew SeaWorld animals — most often their penguins, but sometimes a few parrots — to cities that are nonstop flights from the parks.
"If we can find a way to make this happen, far be it from us to not say yes," Martelle told the newspaper. "The trick is being able to do this and not compromise security."
Two Magellanic penguins named Pete and Penny are sent from San Antonio for the annual promotional event. Once they arrive, they are greeted by local dignitaries and visit children at school, Ronald McDonald houses and hospitals.
Sixteen months after the attacks, Southwest has approached the federal government to craft protocols for the animals to fly again.
"It's so much of who we are," Jones said. "We think it was the right thing to do to get their approval and comments ahead of time."
Southwest has been informed that whatever animals would be brought would be subject to wanding at the security checkpoint. SeaWorld officials say it's OK for the animals to be wanded because the penguins travel well and are used to being handled.
"We feel like they really brighten people's days," said Fran Stephenson, SeaWorld's spokeswoman in San Antonio. "Besides, they don't have any pockets to empty."
This link has a pic with the tuxedoed traveller in the cockpit-
Here is a newsstory about one of the penquins "goodwill tours"-
[Edited 2004-09-09 05:55:38]