American Airlines apologized to a family after they were kicked off of a flight because their disabled child’s service dog was deemed “too large.”
Twelve-year-old Bryant Weasel suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare epilepsy condition that causes frequent and prolonged seizures. His service dog, Chug, a hybrid of a golden retriever and black poodle, can detect epileptic seizures before they happen and is trained to alert the family and comfort Bryant.
On the Thanksgiving Day, Bryant, along with his mother Amy Jo Weasel and the rest of the family, was sitting aboard the flight at Charlotte Douglas International airport when a flight attendant asked them to switch rows with less legroom. She told the family to squeeze the dog under the seat. When the 110-lbs. dog was unable to fit, the attendant voiced doubts that Chug was actually a service dog and threw the family off the plane.
Now, Bryant’s mother is stating she contacted the airline prior to their flight and provided a physician’s note with official documentation for her son’s dog and was not met with any objections.
Animals are not allowed in the exit row and the airline requirements are they must fit in their owner’s lap or under the seat. So, she said, American Airlines first assigned the family with bulkhead seating which would have enough room for the dog to sit at Bryant’s feet.
Weasel said they flew down from Indiana to Charlotte and then to Myrtle Beach without any problems. The family made its way back to Charlotte after four days and they were allowed to board their last flight when the altercation with the attendant occurred.
“I told the attendant, ‘He's 110 lbs., I don't think he'll be able to get under there,’ and she said, ‘Well, exactly. That's why you're not flying on this plane,’” Weasel recounted of her conversation with the flight attendant.
Later that night, the family was placed in another flight to St. Louis and then had to rent a car to drive the remaining three hours home, but they missed their long-awaited Thanksgiving dinner with their relatives.
Weasel complained to the airline, which issued an apology along with a promise of full reimbursement and an investigation into the matter. However, she wasn’t pacified and claimed she would avoid traveling with American in the future.
“Hopefully they will hire people that have some compassion for the disabled folks in the community. And my hope is that nobody else will have to go through this,” Weasel said.
This isn’t the first time American Airlines’ attendants have displayed discriminating behavior.
Two Muslim women were removed from a flight from Miami, Florida, to Washington, D.C., because the attendant felt “threatened” and “unsafe” in their presence.
In another instance, another Muslim man was kicked off after a flight attendant called him out in front of all the passengers and said, “I’ll be watching you.”