Airline apologizes for stopping Captain Haag and his wife from boarding their return flight due to the captain's service dog. But is an apology enough?
According to ServiceDogCentral.org, there are approximately 387,000 service dogs across the United States. This would lead one to believe it is fairly common for someone with a service dog to board an aircraft and that there are airline guidelines put in place to make sure this happens smoothly.
This was not the case for Captain Jason Haag, a former Marine who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He and his wife were attending a gala for Service Dog of the Year with his German shepherd, Axel, who was awarded with the top honor of the night.
On Sunday, American Airlines allegedly prevented Captain Haag from boarding his flight home due to his award-winning service companion.
Haag says that when he and his wife were boarding their flight home from the service dog gala, an American Airlines gate agent pulled Haag out of the line and told him that the flight was full and demanded proof that Axel was a real service dog, reports First Coast News.
Yahoo reports that Captain Haag and his wife had been waiting at their American Airlines gate for two hours with the dog and were not questioned until it was time to board their flight.
Even though Axel was wearing his service dog vest and harness – which is in compliance with American Airline’s existing policy regarding service animals – an airline employee interrogated Haag about his disability and demanded documentation.
According to Yahoo, Haag suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was paired with Axel in 2012 through K9s for Warriors, a group that connects disabled veterans with service dogs.
This is what transpired according to Haag’s Facebook page:
Well I answered all their questioned but didn’t provide “paperwork” because 1) it’s illegal to ask for and against federal law 2) I don’t carry it because I’ve never had issue 3) I called ahead and everything was fine 4) but I did provide an ID to try and appease them. But to no avail…They had my wife in tears in front of 200 people as they brought more managers over to try and bully us.
Yahoo reports that staff members with the American Humane Association re-booked the couple’s flights, and a hotel room for the extra night in Los Angeles, as the airline did not allow them to board the plane.
The organization is calling upon American Airlines to reimburse “the costs endured by Captain Haag” because the airline “did not even follow its own guidelines.”
American Airlines did issue an apology:
We apologize to both Captain Haag and his family for the confusion with the travel plans, yesterday. Thank you, Captain Haag, for your service to your country. We are extremely proud to fly you, Axel and your family.
What do you make of this case? Sound off below.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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