American Airlines is gaining some unwanted negative publicity after a veteran and his service dog were kicked off a flight last week in Miami. WBTW reported the story on May 8.
Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Crowell served for more than 20 years, including countless hours in combat. He came home in 2013, and like many veterans returning home, now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Last week, Kevin and his service dog Bella planned to take a flight with his family from Miami to Key West to attend a Wounded Warriors Project event.
A lot of people are under the assumption the Americans With Disabilities Act covers air travel with service animals. Bella met the requirements of a service dog, and one would think denying Kevin and Bella their rights under the act was in violation of their rights.
The ADA only covers service animals as far as the terminal. The plane itself falls under the Air Carriers Access Act. A copy of American Airlines rules concerning service animals can be found here. The U.S. Department of Transportation offers more information on their website.
Bella met the requirements of a service dog, and to deny Kevin and Bella to travel together on the plane may have been insensitive, American Airlines was likely acting within the law.
Bella is used to accompanying Kevin, and has joined her master at banquets, parties, award ceremonies and graduations. Kevin is upset about the situation, as well he should be. In an interview with WAWS, Kevin stated
"I didn't join the military in the 80s and retire in 2013 to be discriminated against, especially in the United States."
A representative with American Airlines told Lisa Crowell, Kevin's wife, that she will look into the matter, and make sure flight attendants are clear on the laws pertaining to service animals.
America has become a sad nation when veterans who put their lives on the line for their country are treated like this.