Jason Haag, a Virginia Marine Corps veteran, had a harrowing time at Los Angeles International Airport with an American Airlines employee after gate agents of the airline allegedly stopped Haag and his service dog from boarding the aircraft. According to ABC News, Jason, who had already informed the airlines about his intention to travel with his service dog was accused by the American Airlines gate agents of pretending the animal was a service dog.
Jason Haag suffers from post-traumatic disorder after he was wounded in action and was later provided with a service dog named Axel to help him with his stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Ironically, Jason and Axel were stopped by American Airlines officials just a day after Axel was named a winner in the best service dog category awarded by the American Humane Association’s 2015 Hero Dog Awards.
Talking about Axel, Jason says, “He can take me out of anxiety attacks, he can pull me out of flashbacks… my dog is my lifeline.”
So much is his dependence on Axel that he spends most of his time touring the country to talk about service dogs and how these animals can help wounded and injured veterans get back to life.
What makes American Airlines’ decision to bar entry to Jason and his dog even more perplexing is the fact that they allowed him to board the flight in which he had arrived at Los Angeles on Saturday. In fact, on Sunday, they had made it through the security when a gate agent asked Haag to come to his desk and asked him about the service dog.
The questions ranged from “Is that a real service dog?” to “What kind of disability do you suffer from?”
The agent also asked for the paperwork that allowed Jason to bring the dog on board. When Jason presented an ID card to the agent, he dismissed it as fake. Jason once again clarified to him that he had registered himself with the airlines’ disability department and said he did not face any such problems when he was on his way to Los Angeles. Jason was then told by an American Airlines manager to “go home and bring home the paperwork.” In the end, Jason, his wife, and the service dog missed the flight. They were allowed inside another American Airlines flight the next day and spent a night in Los Angeles.
Responding to the incident Victoria Lupica, an American Airlines spokeswoman confirmed that the incident did happen – but added that Jason and his dog were put on another flight on Monday.
They also issued a statement that read, “We are happy to say that Capt. Haag, Axel and his wife traveled with us earlier yesterday. We have apologized to both Capt. Haag and his family for the confusion with Sunday’s travel plans.”
Responding to the incident, the American Humane Association also issued a statement.
“Axel was denied entry on the American Airlines flight despite following the air carrier’s own requirements, which state that to show that an animal is a service animal, you must provide at least one of the following:
Animal ID card; Harness or tags; Written documentation to verify the service; psychiatric or emotional support status of your animal; Credible verbal assurance. Axel had a harness and vest clearly identifying him as a service dog, and the airline was given credible verbal assurance at the time a boarding pass was issued.”
The news of this goof-up by American Airlines comes barely a week after the Inquisitr reported about the airline reportedly using the wrong aircraft on a Los Angeles to Hawaii trip.
[Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for American Humane Association]