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A wounded Marine veteran's service dog is denied boarding at the last minute

A wounded Marine veteran's service dog is denied boarding at the last minute

 
Old Sep 22, 15, 11:51 pm
  #1  
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A wounded Marine veteran's service dog is denied boarding at the last minute

Airline denies Marine vet with PTSD, 'Service Dog of the Year'

http://www.wnd.com/2015/09/airline-d...cat_orig=money

<redacted>

Last edited by Microwave; Sep 23, 15 at 7:01 am
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Old Sep 23, 15, 1:19 am
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That first article is outrageous. Service dogs are PTSD are still service dogs nevertheless -- sounds like a rude and misinformed FA. But that's not to say the veteran didn't worsen the situation by being vague initially: "I tell him the dog does a bunch of stuff for me."

He should have just stated that he was a service member and that the dog was for PTSD -- calling for a supervisor who would have been less ignorant would have helped too.

<redacted>

Last edited by Microwave; Sep 23, 15 at 7:01 am
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Old Sep 23, 15, 7:06 am
  #3  
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Threads should have just one topic; the topic originally mentioned in the OP which had only a very tenuous connection to AA and no connection whatsoever to the other topic has been redacted out—this thread will be for the discussion of the service animal being removed only.

To be clear, that does not include discussion of service animals in general, whether they're good, whether they should be allowed, whether the law should change, etc.. This thread is discussing this one incident and how it relates to AA only. Posts veering from this remit will be redacted or removed.

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Old Sep 23, 15, 7:44 am
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Originally Posted by supermintyfresh View Post
But that's not to say the veteran didn't worsen the situation by being vague initially: "I tell him the dog does a bunch of stuff for me."

He should have just stated that he was a service member and that the dog was for PTSD<redacted>
I'm not sure that the current laws require any person covered by them to satisfy the curiosity of any staff member beyond confirming that the dog is a service animal and describing the work or task the dog has been trained to perform. it is certainly not permitted to ask about the nature of the disability.

So yes, he should have been willing to give details of what the dog was trained to do, but that is all.
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Old Sep 23, 15, 8:42 am
  #5  
 
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The gate agent was wrong, and AA should insure that he has no further contact with the public, including, and up to, firing.

Maybe he can a fill a newly created position for LAX-Hawaii flights-ETOPS verifier.
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Old Sep 23, 15, 8:50 am
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by supermintyfresh View Post
That first article is outrageous. Service dogs are PTSD are still service dogs nevertheless -- sounds like a rude and misinformed FA. But that's not to say the veteran didn't worsen the situation by being vague initially: "I tell him the dog does a bunch of stuff for me."

He should have just stated that he was a service member and that the dog was for PTSD -- calling for a supervisor who would have been less ignorant would have helped too.
Why?

I think there is wide abuse of the "service animal" angle (and that the suggestion of a national registry with some reasonable standard is a good one), but people with disabilities shouldn't be forced to describe them to an AAgent for evaluation.

The relevant federal statute reads:

Carriers shall accept as evidence that an
animal is a service animal identification cards,
other written documentation, presence of
harnesses or markings on harnesses, tags, or
the credible verbal assurances of the qualified
individual with a disability using the animal.
which is exactly what the Marine apparently told the AAgent, who just decided to ignore the law and make up their own rules. (Note that the "credible verbal assurances" is an OR not an AND, so the ID card and presence of harness is enough in and of itself to establish as evidence that it's a service animal.)
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Old Sep 23, 15, 9:03 am
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<redacted>

AA has specific rules that need to be followed for this

https://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInform...iceAnimals.jsp

I actually do agree with the last part that a national registry would be a good idea to identify the legitimate service animals.

Last edited by JDiver; Sep 23, 15 at 10:25 am Reason: Please follow moderator guidance
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Old Sep 23, 15, 9:06 am
  #8  
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The agent was 100% in the wrong and clearly violated the ACAA.

How much of the passenger's incremental expenses should AA have to reimburse? The article says this:

The family was forced to stay an extra night in California before flying out with American Airlines on Monday. Haag told the Free Beacon his family had to absorb an extra $1,525 in expenses for hotel, food, clothes and transportation.
I vote for all of it in lieu of a fine for the ACAA violation, despite the surprisingly large amount.
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Old Sep 23, 15, 9:24 am
  #9  
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For two people, in fact a married couple, over $1500 is an excessive amount to spend for one hotel night, a few meals, and necessary clothing during the delay.
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Old Sep 23, 15, 9:37 am
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I read the wife made a whole scene out of it and didn't end up wanting to fly out that day. Apparently American Airlines said they refused to board. I think they wanted to make this story national headlines and went on some shopping spree/luxury hotel/spa treatments the next day in order for AA to reimburse them.
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Old Sep 23, 15, 9:43 am
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Originally Posted by rjw242 View Post

What is there for the GAs to deal with? Passenger has a service animal, they're allowed to board. No skin off the GA's back.
So if I go to the airport with an orange vest on my dogs back, she should be allowed to fly for free with me at my feet?

The problem the GA's have to deal with is figuring out which dogs are real service animals and which ones are passengers that are trying to cheat the system.
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Old Sep 23, 15, 9:49 am
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I have no hard numbers, but the past 24 months or so on AA I have seen a huge increase in the number of 'service animals' that are accompanying people on planes.

This article seems to be a legit service animal, but the fact that you can go to WalMart or online and get an "official-looking" vest for Fido means that common sense tells you that there is a lot of abuse going on with this. It's definitely a slippery slope, because it's pretty clear there is abuse going on - but you are so limited in who can ask questions and what you can ask about disabilities.

Not just airlines, every grocery store or restaurant in CA seems to all of a sudden have 'anxiety dogs' with these vests all over the place.The same problem with the abuse of handicapped parking placards. A guy jumps out of the car and sprints across the street from his handicapped vehicle, but no one is allowed to ask what his disability is.
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Old Sep 23, 15, 10:30 am
  #13  
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Very well; thread closed.

The Moderator has provided instructions on what constitutes acceptable topic content for this thread, but it appears that some members choose either not to read that or perhaps just not to follow moderator guidance.

We will try to post information relevant to this topic for anyone who is interested.

/Moderator


Synopsis (various news sources):

A retired Marine officer with two combat tours in the Middle East, and his service dog were denied a seat on an American Airlines flight the same day they had been honored with the Service Dog of the Year award.


James Haag and Axel, in service dog working harness

Jason Haag, retired wounded Marine with diagnosed traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with a service dog prescribed to abate his PTSD his wife, and his dog had flown on AA from DCA to LAX without incident. The dog, Axel, had just been awarded "Service Dog of the Year" award at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.

Haag, his wife and Axel, wearing his service dog working harness (sporting large letters spelling out "SERVICE DOG - DO NOT PET" and a patch replica of Haag's Purple Heart medal, presented themselves at the LAX ticket counter, where they were checked in without incident. They proceeded through security to the gate, arriving approximately 1.5 hours prior to departure.

When boarding was announced, they queued up to board. As they approached the boarding gate they were challenged and removed from the boarding queue by an AA gate agent.

The gate agent claimed "they weren't on the list" to board and asked if Axel "was a real service dog". When told yes, and provided with Axel's service dog identification card, the agent made further inquiries,

“He’s like, ‘Well, what’s your disability?’ and I was like, ‘Excuse me?’ because that’s not a question you’re allowed to ask under the rules and regulations,” Haag said. “Then he started firing off questions in rapid succession.”

“He tells me, ‘You could’ve just bought this off the Internet, it’s fake,’ and he throws it back down on the desk.”

“Then my wife chimed in and said ‘what about the service vest he’s got on? He said ‘you can buy that online too.'”

Denied boarding, they were not offered alternate transport nor lodging by AA, nor was their baggage removed from the aircraft. The three were left on the ground without baggage or lodging so they called the American Humane Association.

AHA had them transported back to the Beverly Hilton, where they had stayed during the awards ceremony, and had them housed, fed and acquired changes of clothing for them while they contacted American Airlines.

"Without airfare, we have absorbed $1525 in extra expenses for hotel, food, clothes, and transportation,” (AHA CEO) Ganzert said. “The airfare is still in process as we are trying to get a credit processed against his initial flight.”

Today, American Airlines stated the incident was under investigation and issued an apology to Haag and his family, and flew them to Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport.

“We take these matters very seriously and are looking into what exactly occurred,” Andrea Huguely, a spokesperson for the airline, told the Free Beacon. “Even though there was an issue with Haag’s and Axel’s travel we are very happy to say that Haag, his wife, and Axel traveled with us, once again, today. We have apologized to both Haag and his family and are very appreciative of his service to our country.”

"Haag said he hoped his ordeal might lead to action in forming a national registry for service dogs so no other veterans have to go through the same thing. 'Service dogs are not going to go away,”'he said."
American Airlines service animal policies:

Traveling with a service animal
Service animals are welcome on all flights. There are no additional charges for service animals traveling in the cabin.

To travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you’ll need to contact the Reservations desk of the airline operating your flight (American or US Airways) at least 48 hours before your flight and submit the required documentation...

Requirements
To show that an animal is a service animal, you must provide (at least one of the following):
  • Animal ID card (shown)
  • Harness or tags (worn)
  • Written documentation to verify the service, psychiatric or emotional support status of your animal (unknown)
  • Credible verbal assurance (given)
Full listing: https://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInform...iceAnimals.jsp
USDOT guidance wrt the Air Carrier Access Act (applicable regulation, not Americans with Disabilities Act): http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/legis...M-07-15-05.doc

Last edited by JDiver; Sep 23, 15 at 11:17 am
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