Society

Veteran Sues After Airline Bans Service Dog From Flight

| by Sam Gravity

An Army veteran who has post traumatic stress syndrome has filed a federal lawsuit against American Airlines agents who allegedly put her through two days of "stress and humiliation" when she tried to board a plane home from Kansas with her service dog.

Lisa McCombs has traveled with Jake, her service dog, since 2009 after being honorably discharged from the Army due to her PTSD, the Miami Herald reports.

McCombs reportedly attempted to bring Jake on the American Airlines flight wearing his service vest and leash, but was stopped by a gate agent who said, "You’re not trying to fly with that?" of the service dog.

“A crazy, obnoxious situation took place -- arguing back and forth, humiliation, harassment and ultimately my flight was denied,” McCombs said. “The whole situation perpetuated my disability. It sent me into crisis mode.”

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McCombs was reportedly told she didn’t have the correct documentation for Jake to fly, even though the Americans with Disabilities Act did not require McCombs to have documentation on hand.

After further the intervention of a supervisor, employees reportedly confirmed McCombs could not take the service dog on the flight except as cargo, with a $125 fee. McCombs proceeded to stay in Kansas for an additional 48 hours, until she was able to resubmit identification for a flight and board with Jake.

“Ms. McCombs was emotionally crushed and humiliated by the conduct of [Americans’] agents, who discriminated against her because of her disability and publicly shamed her,” says McComb’s attorney Christopher Van Cleave.

Since the incident, McCombs has a filed a lawsuit against American Airlines and Envoy Air alleging negligence, breach of contract and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the suit, McCombs seeks to be compensated for medical treatment she received after the incident, in addition to costs associated with the flight and legal process.

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The lawsuit references a similar incident with American Airlines a month earlier, when a former Marine was not permitted to fly with his service dog on a flight home from a ceremony commemorating him Service Dog of the Year. Haag’s lawyer encouraged the company to reimburse the veteran for damages, but no lawsuit was filed, according to Fox News.

American Airlines has allegedly contacted McCombs directly to apologize for its misstep and offered the former captain "whatever it takes to make the situation right."

McCombs reportedly bartered for first-class tickets on an international flight for her and a guest, and said American offered to fly her to Salute to the Troops the next month in Las Vegas.

Sources: Miami Herald, Fox News, McCombs vs. American Airlines, Envoy Air / Photo credit: Lisa McCombs/Facebook via Good Housekeeping

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