LOS ANGELES — Retired Marine Jason Haag and his service dog, Axel, were denied boarding to an American Airlines flight home after winning the Service Dog Of The Year award at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.
In a Facebook post, Haag describes how he and he wife were humiliated in front of 200 people as they waited to board their flight home from LAX. The airline pulled them out of line because they claimed the flight was full but then demanded the couple prove that Axel was a service dog.
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Even though Haag provided a dog identification card and the service dog harness Axel was wearing, the airline still refused to let them board because they didn’t provide the correct “paperwork.”
According to the American Airlines policy, passengers only require one form of identification for service dogs.
Haag and Axel were returning home after attending the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards where Axel won Service Dog Of The Year. The duo were coupled together through K9s For Warriors after Haag had been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD from two tours of Afghanistan.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here without Axel,” Haag told the Washington Free Beacon. “I mean, he saved my life 100 percent. He saved my life, he saved my family.”
Unfortunately, the American Airlines counter agent didn’t seem to believe Haag’s dog was a service dog and continued to ask personal questions.
“He’s like, ‘Well, what’s your disability?’ and I was like, ‘Excuse me?’ because that’s not a question you’re allowed to ask under the rules and regulations,” Haag said. “Then he started firing off questions in rapid succession.”
Haag says that not only where they denied boarding, they weren’t allowed to retrieve their bags nor were they put on another flight. They were left stranded.
Thankfully, the American Humane Association helped them book another flight and got them a hotel overnight.
A spokesperson for American Airlines has since apologized for the “confusion,” even though they say is was Haag who decided to not fly.
“We take these matters very seriously and are looking into what exactly occurred,” Andrea Huguely, a spokesperson for the airline, told the Washington Free Beacon. “Even though there was an issue with Haag and Axel’s travel, we are very happy to say that Haag, his wife, and Axel traveled with us, once again, today. We have apologized to both Haag and his family and are very appreciative of his service to our country.”
Haag hopes that this incident will lead to a national registry for service dogs so that no one else has to go through this experience.