An 11-year-old boy with a debilitating seizure disorder was kicked off of an American Airlines flight for bringing aboard his service dog, even though his mother says that they had worked everything out with the airline in advance, WLTX (Columbia, South Carolina) is reporting.
Bryant Weasel has Dravet Syndrome, a seizure disorder that can be difficult to treat with traditional pharmaceuticals. To that end, he has a service dog to help him out: Chug, a 110-pound black labradoodle. Chug can sense when his best friend is about to have a seizure and is trained to help Bryant through them.
“Every type of seizure that you can possibly have, he has — and this particular syndrome is resistant to most pharmaceutical medications. [Chug is] able to detect seizures before they happen and then he’s able to assist when he’s actually having a seizure.”
— snapyeti (@snapyeti) November 29, 2016
Last week, the family went on vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Mom Amy Weasel says she called American Airlines before the trip, asking if it would be OK to bring Bryant’s service dog on the plane, and was assured there would be no problem. And when they flew from their Evansville, Indiana, home to Myrtle Beach, with a stopover in Charlotte, they had absolutely no problems whatsoever with bringing Chug on board the aircraft.
On the return flight home, the family had a completely different experience, however. The flight from Myrtle Beach to Charlotte went off without a hitch, and Chug was welcome on the aircraft as if he were a paying passenger. However, on the final leg of the flight, from Charlotte to Evansville, things went awry.
As the family settled into their seats, Chug comfortably on the floor at Bryant’s feet, a flight attendant approached and told the family to move to other seats. They complied. Then, Amy says, they were approached by a flight attendant again, and this time they were told that the service dog had to be seated under the seat in front of them. Amy used treats to lure the 110-pound animal into a tight and uncomfortable space, but that wasn’t enough for the flight attendant, who called a manager, who then ordered the family off of the plane.
“It was just very unfortunate that this flight attendant was not trained in knowing how to accommodate people with special needs.”
The family wound up spending Thanksgiving Day in a Charlotte hotel room — fortunately, American Airlines picked up the tab — and then had to try to book a different flight home, at the height of the Thanksgiving travel season. Eventually, they were put on a flight to St. Louis, leaving the family scrambling to figure out how they were going to get home to Evansville, a three-hour drive away.
In a statement, American Airlines acknowledged the incident, placing the blame on a regional carrier that sub-contracts American flights.
“We are aware of this issue and apologize to the passenger. Our customer relations team is reaching out to the passenger directly. We are looking into the issue with PSA Airlines, the regional carrier who operated that flight.”
This is not the first time that American Airlines has hassled a passenger over a service animal. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, a disabled Army veteran said that she was ridiculed and belittled by American Airlines staff over her service dog, and was similarly not allowed to board a flight even though she had been assured that her dog would be welcome.
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