American Airlines has apologized to a Marine Corps veteran after a gate agent initially refused to allow him to board his flight with his service dog.
Capt. Jason Haag and his German Shepherd, Axel, were stopped at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday when an airline employee began questioning him about the dog, ABC News reports.
Haag told the news organization that the gate agent immediately asked, “Is this a real service dog?” — a question that seems extra ridiculous, considering why the two of them were in Southern California in the first place. The night before, Axel was named the Service Dog of the Year at the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. But even if the employee somehow missed the ceremony, he should’ve known better than the ask the next two questions.
Haag said that the American Airlines employee asked him to identify his disability and to show his paperwork, two questions that one cannot ask anyone who is accompanied by a service dog, veteran or not, ABC News reports. According to Haag and Axel’s Facebook page, Axel helps Haag manage his PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
Haag said he showed Axel’s ID and explained that he’d registered the dog with American’s disabilities department, but that wasn’t enough.
“The next thing they ask me is, ‘What does the dog do for you?’ I tell him the dog does a bunch of stuff for me. He didn’t really like that answer,” Haag told ABC News. “I tried to start telling him the tasks; he starts to tell me that I’m noncompliant and my dog can’t fly because I can’t produce any paperwork.”
Haag, his wife and Axel missed their flight, although they were re-booked on another American flight on Monday. The airline has since issued an apology.
“We are happy to say that Capt. Haag, Axel and his wife traveled with us earlier [on Monday],” an airline spokesperson said in a statement. “We have apologized to both Capt. Haag and his family for the confusion with Sunday’s travel plans.”
The airline also added that it holds “the men and women who serve our country in the highest regard.”
Hopefully, that respect will extend to the service animals who comfort and assist those men and women after their military service has ended.