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Captain Jason Haag, a Marine veteran of two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, and his service dog, Axel, were waiting to board a flight home from Los Angeles where Axel had just been awarded The American Humane Association’s 2015 Service Dog of the Year when staff with American Airlines pulled them from the line and demanded proof that Axel was a service dog.
Jason explained on Facebook,
Well ladies and gentlemen we have been denied access and not been allowed to board our plane by American Airlines due to us not being able to prove that Axel is a Service Dog. Well I answered all their questioned but didn’t provide “paperwork” because 1) it’s illegal to ask for and against federal law 2) I don’t carry it because I’ve never had issue 3) I called ahead and everything was fine 4) but I did provide an ID to try and appease them. But to no avail. Wouldn’t allow us on the plane. Mind I made it through security and had been waiting in front of the gate for 2 hours in clear view of them. They pulled me out of line as I tried to board. They had my wife in tears in front of 200 people as they brought more managers over to try and bully us. I’m not gonna stand for this.
The American Humane Association, after hearing of the incident, made sure Jason, his wife, and Axel were booked on another flight and set them up for the night in a hotel, even providing them with clean clothes when American Airlines wouldn’t even collect the family’s luggage.
He posted the following update,
My Wife, Axel, and I are resting comfortably back at the hotel tonight. We are unable to fly today due to the unfortunate incident with American Airlines. I can assure you that all rules and regulations were followed. I even called ahead to the airline a week in advance to “register” Axel like I do every time I fly. I had some problems with the disability hotline but was assured we would be able to fly and was given the bulkhead seating to accommodate Axel and I per Service Dog accommodations. We flew out to California with no problems. The Problems occurred on the way back. We made it easily through security, turned our bags in, ate lunch at the airport and then sat at the gate for over 2 hours in clear view of the employees. Five minutes before boarding they made an announcement the plane was full and that’s when I was pulled out of line.
A spokesperson with American Airlines, however, said that it was Haag who made the decision not to fly. They have since attempted to fix the problem, making a public apology and thanking Haag for his service. The airline says they fully support members of the armed forces and that they are working with Haag to figure out just what happened.
Haag, his wife, and Axel have since boarded a flight home to Virginia.