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Veteran Sues After Service Dog Barred from Plane

Veteran News
Veteran News
November 1, 2016
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A veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan is suing American Airlines after she was “publicly humiliated” and not allowed on a return flight with her PTSD service dog. The dog was allowed on the initial flight out with no problems.Former Army Capt. Lisa McCombs claims that during a two-day ordeal, the American Airlines crew refused to honor her tickets and publicly humiliated her multiple times, according to a lawsuit filed in her home state of Mississippi.McCombs served in the Army from 2005 to 2009, including a deployment to Iraq in 2006 and one to Afghanistan in 2008. She was an engineer officer.


Service dog was intended to deal with anxiety, not cause it

The incident happened from Oct. 25 to Oct. 27 last year, when McCombs was attempting to return home to Gulfport, Mississippi after a day trip to Manhattan, Kansas. The incident occurred at the Manhattan Regional Airport, about 120 miles west of Kansas City.According to the lawsuit, American Airlines personnel refused to let McCombs through security with her dog for two days in a row, despite the fact that she had added Jake, her Labrador Retriiever, to her reservations and filled out multiple forms on the AA website.At one point, a ticket agent saw her dog and asked “Um, are you flying with that?”Over the course of two days, airline staff cancelled her original flight and a second flight that she booked over the phone. They demanded that she either buy a carrier and pay $125 to have Jake flown in the cargo hold, or submit paperwork via fax, a process that would take two days to obtain approval.McCombs was so upset that she experienced a panic attack in the airport.[caption id="attachment_8683" align="aligncenter" width="640"]

service dog.

Lisa McCombs and service dog Jake. Source: Lisa McCombs[/caption]Out of desperation she booked a flight with Delta airlines out of the Kansas City airport, and drove there in a rental car. On her way there, she was contacted by American Airlines, who gave her a new flight. She made it through security and check-in just fine at that point, but her ordeal wasn’t over.After getting off her plane during a connection in Dallas/Ft. Worth, an American Airlines employee met her at the gate with a wheelchair and called out for a “disabled veteran,” which embarrassed her publicly.She eventually made it back home to Mississippi, where she decided to file the lawsuit.McCombs was diagnosed with PTSD by the VA after her time in service. Her dog is a way for her to cope with anxiety.McCombs is suing American Airlines for emotional damages, medical care and therapy required after the ordeal.American Airlines has contacted the former Army Captain but will not comment on the case because of pending litigation. It is unclear if American Airlines plans to fight the lawsuit.

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