CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A mother is speaking out after she and her son, who has Dravet Syndrome we’re kicked off an American Airlines flight departing Charlotte-Douglas for Evansville, Indiana on Thanksgiving Day.
To many dogs are a man’s best friend, but to 11-year-old Bryant Weasel who lives with Dravet Syndrome, his trained labradoodle service dog named Chug is that and so much more.
“Every type of seizure that you can possibly have, he has -- and this particular syndrome is resistant to most pharmaceutical medications,” says Bryant’s mother, Amy Weasel.
Weasel says Chug goes everywhere Bryant goes, even to school.
“He’s able to detect seizures before they happen and then he’s able to assist when he’s actually having a seizure,” says Weasel.
So when the family decided to take a family vacation to Myrtle Beach, Weasel says she called the airline in advance to make sure Chug could fly. Weasel says she filled out the required paperwork, requested additional documentation from Bryant’s doctor and then submitted the paperwork to the airline a week before they were set to fly.
“We flew from Evansville to Charlotte and then from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach on November 2 with absolutely no problems whatsoever,” says Weasel.
The Weasels were headed back home Thanksgiving day and say their flight from Myrtle Beach to Charlotte was also smooth, but as they boarded the last leg of their trip in Charlotte Weasel says a flight attendant approached her.
“The flight attendant came up to me and told me I couldn’t sit there,” says Weasel.
Weasel complied and she, her family and the dog moved to another row. “And at that time she told me the dog could not be sitting, that the dog had to be under the seat,” says Weasel.
Again trying to comply, Weasel says she used dog treats to get the 110-pound dog under the seat, but even then the flight attendant wasn’t happy and called management. Weasel says when management boarded the flight, she expected them to explain to the flight attendant that she was in compliance, but that’s not what happened.
“The manager said she doesn’t want you on this plane,” said Weasel.
The Weasels say they were then asked to get off the plane, where they spent their Thanksgiving in Charlotte-Douglas trying to get rebooked on another flight. She says American Airlines eventually put them up in a hotel room and re-booked them on a flight Friday, but to St. Louis, Missouri – and airport three hours away from their home.
“It was just very unfortunate that this flight attendant was not trained in knowing how to accommodate people with special needs,” says Weasel.
A spokesperson for American Airlines released this statement saying:
“We are aware of this issue and apologize to the passenger. Our customer relations team is reaching out to the passenger directly. We are looking into the issue with PSA Airlines, the regional carrier who operated that flight.”
Weasel says no one from American Airlines has reached out to her, but she says she called them to alert them of the issue. She says she was offered a $150 voucher.
“I just wanted to share our story so that this hopefully won’t happen to anybody else,” said Weasel.
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