Combat vet suing American Airlines for refusing to let service dog on flight

A combat vet, who served from 2005 to 2009, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, is suing American Airlines for refusing to let her service dog on a flight back home to Mississippi last year.

Former Army Capt. Lisa McCombs was in Kansas last October for a quick day trip. However, on her returning flight home to Gulfport, Miss., she ran into some problems with the Manhattan, Kansas crew members, who reportedly refused to honor her tickets.

McCombs, who suffers from PTSD, travels with Jake –a chocolate Labrador retriever, who helps the prior-enlisted engineer officer cope with anxiety.

According to the lawsuit filed this week, the airline crew humiliated her multiple times and refused to let her through security with the dog, two days in a row.  She’d added Jake to the reservation and brought ‘several forms of valid documentation’ that the airline required, Army Times reported.

However, McCombs was reportedly told by an agent that she had to either buy a $125 carrier to have the dog flown home in the cargo hold or “submit the service dog’s papers via fax and wait 2 days for approval.”

In the midst of this whole ordeal, McCombs began suffering a panic attack. She argued with airline personnel and customer service over the phone, trying to explain her situation, and was eventually ordered to leave the airport.

Her original plan was to fly back home on Sunday, Oct. 25, but since the issues could not be resolved with American, McCombs decided to drive two hours away to Kansas City and take a flight with Delta  on October 27.

While on her way to take that flight, American Airlines reportedly came through with an offer for a third flight — the Times reported. She canceled her Delta tickets and returned home with the original crew that dealt with her two days earlier at Manhattan Regional Airport.

The lawsuit also alleges that McCombs was humiliated during her connection at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. According to the Army Times article, “an entourage greeted her on the jet bridge with a wheelchair, calling out for a “disabled veteran” and insisting on escorting her to her next flight.”

Officials at American Airlines subsequently reached out to McCombs and offered to reimburse her for the flights. It’s unclear if the staff at American, who allegedly mishandled the situation with McCombs, had to deal with any consequences.

McCombs is suing the airline for emotional damages as well as “subsequent medical care and therapy required to help her process the incident.”

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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