» American Airlines Sued for Barring Veteran and Service Dog from Flight

American Airlines Sued for Barring Veteran and Service Dog from Flight

Legal Help for Veterans is a law firm helping veterans get the benefits they deserve.

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) December 6, 2016 - An Army veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sued American Airlines after she was humiliated multiple times and prevented from boarding a flight with her service dog.

Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Lisa McCombs was trying to fly home to Gulfport, Mississippi, from Kansas on October 25, 2015. According to the complaint, airline agents refused to let McCombs pass through security with Jake, her certified service dog, despite having valid documentation. The Labrador retriever was also harnessed and wearing his service vest as per airline requirements.

“It is disappointing that a veteran endured such behavior from American Airlines even though she seemed to have complied with their ID and documentation rules for service dogs,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “Instead of understanding her situation and helping her, the airline personnel ended up exacerbating her PTSD.”

The lawsuit claimed airline staff demanded McCombs explain her disability and how her service dog helped. One American Airlines agent allegedly gestured to Jake and said, “Umm, are you trying to fly with that?” in a condescending manner.

McCombs relies on her dog to cope with anxiety from PTSD. According to the lawsuit filed in Mississippi on October 24, she told the airline staff, “I have PTSD, look at me, I’m an anxious mess! … I don’t understand why I’m being treated like this!”

The former captain also described receiving conflicting information from American Airlines representatives over the phone. One asked her to fax Jake’s paperwork and await approval for two days, while the other said she must pay $125 for his flight home in the cargo hold.

After her original flight was cancelled, McCombs returned to the airport the next day. Once again American Airlines did not permit her to fly. The Mississippi resident was eventually able to board a third flight with Jake the following day, the lawsuit said.

However, she experienced further humiliation during her connection at the Dallas/Forth Worth Airport. A group of American Airlines staff called out for a “disabled veteran” upon her arrival. They insisted on escorting McCombs and Jake to their next flight in a wheelchair despite her repeated protests.

An American Airlines official reached out to McCombs after she returned home to say how embarrassed the company was. He offered her first-class international tickets and reimbursement for her flight. The veteran is seeking compensation for her airline tickets, attorney fees, emotional distress and medical expenses for PTSD treatment.

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Northville, MI 48168
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