Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Feud Over Service Dog Ends After American Airlines Settles Lawsuit With Army Veteran
American Airlines has settled a 2016 lawsuit filed by an Army veteran who complained that the company had mistreated her because of her service dog.
Mississippi resident Lisa McCombs alleged that airline employees had blocked her from boarding a flight in Kansas two days in a row in October 2015 despite documentation showing Jake, her dog, is a service animal trained to help her with post-traumatic stress disorder. She called the experience "an emotionally scarring ordeal" that continued during a layover at DFW International Airport.
McCombs claimed that American Airlines had violated federal law that forbids air carriers from discriminating based on disability. But American Airlines argued that courts have ruled the law does not allow for McCombs to privately sue.
The woman and the airline reached a settlement late last month. Their representatives declined to discuss the terms, citing confidentiality, though both said the case was resolved "to the satisfaction of all parties."
Matt Miller, a spokesman for the airline, thanked McCombs for her military service.
McCombs, whose service took her to Iraq and Afghanistan, told a federal court that her dog, Jake, was trained to move his body close to hers to distract her during panic attacks. On the day of the flight, Jake was harnessed and wearing a vest identifying him as a service animal, but American Airlines representatives gave her conflicting information and treated her and her dog with disdain even though she had a doctor's letter, according to her lawsuit.
"Ummmm, are you trying to fly with that?" McCombs says an airline employee told her.
The issue of how to accommodate fliers with disabilities and their animals in plane cabins has come under increased scrutiny as travelers show up to their flights with all kinds of creatures — a pig in Connecticut, a duck in North Carolina and a peacock in New Jersey, for instance.
Delta and United Airlines recently decided to tighten their rules for service animals as the perception grows that some travelers are acting fraudulently by bringing in pets. Miller said American Airlines is also reviewing its policy, but not in response to a particular incident.
"Our goal is to protect our team members and our customers who have a need for a service or support animal," he said.
A key distinction for airlines is the kind of assistance that animals provide to travelers.
The Air Carrier Access Act gives a broad definition for service animal — basically any animal individually trained to help a person with a disability, or any animal that provides emotional support to a person with a disability.
Airline employees are instructed to look for clues such as harnesses or tags identifying service animals, or they can ask a flier what kind of assistance the animal provides.
That can be obvious with guide or hearing dogs, but the relief offered by animals that help with mental impairments might not be as conspicuous.
Generally, airlines can't require that a traveler show documentation to allow a service animal in the cabin — that is, unless the traveler fails to give "credible verbal assurance," per federal rules. Yet when it comes to emotional support animals and "psychiatric service animals," federal officials allow airlines to request specific documentation and advanced notice 48 hours before the flight.
Certain animals don't have to be allowed in the cabin at all, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That list includes snakes and other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, sugar gliders (a kind of possum) and spiders. Airlines also have the flexibility to bar entry to animals that are too large for the cabin, too disruptive, or a risk to the safety of others.
American Airlines' policy for service animals follows federal rules, Miller said. The airline lists its documentation requirements for emotional support and psychiatric service animals on its website.
Miller's advice for travelers with animals is to call the airline ahead of time to ask questions or to add a note to their reservations.
"In the instance of service animals, it's always particularly helpful," he said.
©2018 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Exclusive: Video shows Navy SEAL flying drone over body of ISIS fighter shortly after Eddie Gallagher allegedly stabbed him
Shortly after Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher allegedly murdered a wounded ISIS prisoner, about half a dozen of his SEAL teammates watched as one SEAL flew a drone around their compound and hovered it just inches over the dead man's body.
It was yet another ethical lapse for the men of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon, many of whom had just taken a group photograph with the deceased victim after their commander had held an impromptu reenlistment ceremony for Gallagher near the body. Although some expressed remorse in courtroom testimony over their participation in the photo, video footage from later that morning showed a number of SEALs acted with little regard for the remains of Gallagher's alleged victim.
The video — which was shown to the jury and courtroom spectators last week in the trial of Gallagher — was recently obtained by Task & Purpose.
A U.S. Air Force veteran held captive for six weeks by the Libyan military amid allegations that he was a hired mercenary was freed by the U.S. government on Tuesday, the Washington Post first reported.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
Developed by Offworld Studios alongside living, breathing military veterans, 'Squad' may be the most realistic shooter on the market — or at least, with 40 vs 40 squad-level fighting, the most fun.
The game, according to its website, was designed to "establish a culture of camaraderie that is unparalleled in competitive multiplayer shooters." More importantly, it comes complete with realistic renderings of Stryker armored vehicles, which is my personal jam.
DUBAI (Reuters) - President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if the Islamic Republic attacked "anything American," as Iran said the latest U.S. sanctions had closed off any chance of diplomacy.
"Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force," Trump tweeted just days the United States came within minutes of bombing Iranian targets.
"In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration," the U.S. president tweeted.