A U.S. Army veteran says American Airlines crew members denied him the right to have his service dog by his side while flying.
"Crowell says before the trip, an American Airlines worker told him Bella could fly with him in the bulkhead area — the seats with more leg room — as long as it is not in the emergency exit section. But another airline employee stopped him before he could board the flight." (Via WDHN)
"The flight attendant told me, she said, 'The policy states no pets in bulk heading,' and I said, again: 'Bella's not a pet. She's a service dog. According to the law, she meets the requirements of a service dog.'" (Via WFOR)
Kevin Crowell and his family were removed from the plane. They had just attended a Wounded Warriors Project event in Key West. Prior to the incident, the veteran and his service dog had already flown from their home in Jacksonville without conflict.
WAWS says the retired veteran served 20 years in the military, sustained injuries in combat, and at times practically leans on Bella for support.
After walking off the plane, he and his family rented a car and drove back home. According to reports, the Crowells called American Airlines and a representative said the staff members will receive additional training on its policies.
The airline offered the family a full refund of its travel costs as well. WPLG has his wife’s reaction — and looks at the legality of the issue.
"The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 guarantees that service animals can travel with their owner, but workers asked the group to get off the plane.
"This is a medical issue that you are violating. You are hurting somebody." (Via WPLG)
And several local news stations have also reported on a similar occurrence at the Tampa International Airport. WFLA reports on veteran and new service dog owner Josh Rivera.
"Rivera had just picked up his service dog and was trying to fly home out of TIA. He was also flying American Airlines. When he got to the gate, the agent turned him away."
In that case, a spokesperson for American Airlines told WFLA the airline believes Rivera's dog was an emotional support dog, not a service dog, and must be registered with proper documentation before boarding the flight.