LOS ANGELES — A Marine Corps veteran from Virginia claims that American Airlines stopped him and his service dog from boarding a recent flight.
According to ABC News, Jason Haag – who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury – and his wife were trying to head home from Los Angeles on Sunday with Haag’s service dog, Axel. Earlier that weekend, the dog was named Service Dog of the Year at the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.
But Haag, 35, said his travel plans were interrupted when an American Airlines gate agent began to question him about the dog and his disability.
‘Is that a real service dog?’
‘The first thing this guy asked me is, ‘Is that a real service dog?” Haag told ABC News. ‘I just find that question kind of odd because nobody at the airport has asked me that and I fly all the time. I said, ‘Yes.”
Haag said the gate agent then asked the veteran what his disability was, how the dog assisted him and whether he had paperwork. When Haag didn’t provide the paperwork and instead showed the agent an ID, the agent said Haag was noncompliant and that the ID was fake, Haag said.
‘I then tell him I called eight days ago, registered him with your disabilities department,’ Haag told ABC News. ‘I flew out here three days prior on the same airline, and I didn’t have any issues.’
Haag said the airline refused to let him board, so he had to take a different flight the next day. The airline paid for the hotel room and rebooked the flights.
The American Humane Association issued a news release about the incident, saying the airline requires only one of the following forms of identification for a service dog to board a flight: an animal ID card, a harness or tags, written documentation or verbal assurance. The AHA said Axel had been wearing a service vest and the airline received ‘credible verbal assurance’ from Haag, so the requirements should have been met.
On Monday, American Airlines issued a statement apologizing to Haag.
‘We apologize to both Captain Haag and his family for the confusion with the travel plans yesterday,’ spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said. ‘Thank you, Captain Haag, for your service to your country. We are extremely proud to fly you, Axel and your family.’
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