War Veteran and Golden Retriever Service Dog Removed from Flight

Earlier this month, a Vietnam War Veteran and his golden retriever service dog were removed from a U.S Airways flight from Phoenix to El Paso prior to take off as the man refused to make the dog lay on the floor.

servicedog

This story has raised a lot of controversy as to whether the man should have been kicked off the flight. US Airways rules clearly state that service animals must ride on the floor under the seat in front of the handler for safety reasons.  The man became agitated, and the staff felt that due to the fact the man suffered from PTSD, the situation could escalate once off the ground.  The airline paid for the man’s hotel and he took a flight the next day.

The unidentified veteran told the other passengers while waiting for police to arrive:

"I'm sorry folks but I've earned the right to have this service animal because of my service to this country in Vietnam. I am 100 percent disabled, I have a service dog because of it and everyone has to obey the ADA laws except this airline! So I'm sorry but I'm not budging!"

The whole scene was caught on video and has gone viral on YouTube.  If you look closely around the 9:15 mark, you can see the happy old golden wagging it’s tail as it is being taken out but what looks to be a police officer.

Here’s a link to a video from myfoxphoenix of the story:

http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/story/23348254/2013/09/05/disabled-war-veteran-kicked-off-us-airways-plane?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=9276486

Full Story – Veteran kicked off plane after service dog dispute – AZFamily.com

Some of the comments on the video and news story are pretty interesting to say the least.  What do you think?

18 thoughts on “War Veteran and Golden Retriever Service Dog Removed from Flight

  1. I think we need to rely on what the rules are. My biggest concern would be safety, of dog and passengers. It makes me sad that there was a child two rows back hearing all the yelling then seeing a dog getting kicked off a plane!

    • I am a disabled combat veteran turned master level social worker. I have helped Mr. Johnson put together his side of the story as it relates to this video; something that has not yet been told. My friend Terry Johnson has asked that I include his statement in my post. Before I post his comments (he has already done so on this thread–am just going it again at his request) keep in mind that by the time you see this video, Mr. Johnson had been provoked, picked on and pushed to the point of the outburst you see on the video. Very shameful for this airline. What follows is a re post of the document I helped him with yesterday.

      Robert Sanchez Langston, MSW, BSW
      SFC, US Army (Ret)
      _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      Disabled Veteran’s Response and Complete Account of where I (Terry Johnson) was Kicked Off of USAir Flight

      This letter is in response to the video placed on YouTube in which I ( Terry Johnson) am the subject. The video can be found on YouTube under the heading of, “Disabled Veteran Kicked Off USAir
      Flight.” I felt the need to explain the complete story that was not conveyed by the video.
      I purchased the round trip tickets through Sun Travel out of El Paso Texas for bulkhead window seating three months in advance. I let the travel agency know I was traveling with a service dog. They indicated they would let US Air know. Keep in mind, I had traveled all over with Bear, my service dog. This was the final leg of the return trip—and the only time I had any problem.

      On one of the legs of my journey the US Air Flight Attendant asked if she could take a picture of Bear up in the seat with me. I said yes. What you see is that picture. Since my beloved Bear has passed, I have used this photograph as my online picture. Keep in mind, that Bear’s place was on the floor in the front bulkhead but he was relocated to take the picture.

      (picture did not transfer)

      The purchase of the bulkhead seating negated the need to purchase an additional
      seat for my service dog. The problem arose when my prepaid bulkhead window seat was given to a USAir employee. I asked the stewardess to remove the man from my assigned seat, but she refused. The air stewardess instructed me to move to an aisle seat. However, my service dog encroached six
      inches into the aisle. Next, the stewardess offered to have my service dog and I move to the
      two empty seats four rows back. I therefore felt in order to protect my dog’s life, I placed him in the seat beside me. There was not a doubt in my mind that my service dog would not be able to fit on the floor safely. It was at that point that the stewardess said the dog cannot sit in the seat. If I’d been allowed to be in the seat that I had actually purchased, this situation would not have occurred. My dog was too large to safely lay on the floor as the space was just too small. The flight attendant told me that it was against the law for a dog to sit in the seat of an airplane. There is no such law. This is at the point where other passengers started videotaping the incident where I was fighting
      for my dogs life. There was a Veteran who supported me with applause, and another Veteran whom I am sure would have clapped but he had only one hand. You never see this support on the video clip.

      I checked in with the airline well over an hour early. USAir knew I was there with my dog and knew in advance the special situation which brought up the need for my buying the bulkhead seating. USAir did not follow Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulations and remove the man from the seat
      that I had purchased. The following will help explain how I believe my rights were violated:

      Seating Accommodations (The Airline knew I was flying with a service dog and they should
      not have ordered me to give up my advanced purchased seating).

      Complaints and Enforcement Procedures (I have repeatedly complained to DOT and nothing has
      been done).

      I even have taped conversations with some of these federal agencies.

      I was arrested and removed from the plane. During this time I was totally separated from my service dog. This was unacceptable as the whole point of a service animal is to be beside the person’s side at all times. The judge dismissed the charges brought against me by USAir. I committed no crime, yet I am being treated as if I did by USAir, DOT and ACAA. Ron Hope, Commander of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) at that time wrote a well written letter to USAir and they have not responded. The current DAV leadership has not offered to help what so ever, follow up on the outgoing commanders letter of concern about how I and other Veterans were being treated by this Airline.

      I want an apology from USAir, DOT and the ACAA. All anyone knows is what they have seen on YouTube and this is the part of me arguing to protect my dog’s life. They do not see the reason for the
      confrontation which was the US Air employee taking up my assigned seating or the fact that the charges were dismissed. I have all of my receipts and documents of proving the purchase of the bulkhead seating. Any pro bono or contingency legal help is appreciated or any other help getting my side of the story out.
      Read more
      Reply

      • Thank you for your comment and support. Did you know that the D.A.V. has only seen the middle of the story, as has every one else, and that Ed Hartman of the D.A.V. told me that, Quote ( I saw it, I saw you. You should have been put into JAI ) and now my phone is being blocked by the D.A.V.,I get no assistance from the D.A.V. and I am a life time member. Please take a look at all of the passengers, you,ll notice that none of them are upset with me, or my behavior, because as you know the Arizona Judge dismissed the charges. brought against me by USAir. I have not committed any crime, I am not criminal and Ed Hartman, Adjutant General of the D.A.V.. I want a full apology and full reinstatement to the benefits or a full refund from the D.A.V.. Ron Hope wrote a very well written letter to USAir on my behalf. Ed Hartman, destroyed the letter to USAir. But I did receive my copy.

      • You’re an unintentional comedian, Langston. Instead of attempting to defend the indefensible, you should have been helping him get the psychiatric care and medication that he needs.

    • I am a disabled combat veteran turned master level social worker. I have helped Mr. Johnson put together his side of the story as it relates to this video; something that has not yet been told. My friend Terry Johnson has asked that I include his statement in my post. Before I post his comments (he has already done so on this thread–am just going it again at his request) keep in mind that by the time you see this video, Mr. Johnson had been provoked, picked on and pushed to the point of the outburst you see on the video. Very shameful for this airline. What follows is a re post of the document I helped him with yesterday.

      Robert Sanchez Langston, MSW, BSW
      SFC, US Army (Ret)
      _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      Disabled Veteran’s Response and Complete Account of where I (Terry Johnson) was Kicked Off of USAir Flight

      This letter is in response to the video placed on YouTube in which I ( Terry Johnson) am the subject. The video can be found on YouTube under the heading of, “Disabled Veteran Kicked Off USAir
      Flight.” I felt the need to explain the complete story that was not conveyed by the video.
      I purchased the round trip tickets through Sun Travel out of El Paso Texas for bulkhead window seating three months in advance. I let the travel agency know I was traveling with a service dog. They indicated they would let US Air know. Keep in mind, I had traveled all over with Bear, my service dog. This was the final leg of the return trip—and the only time I had any problem.

      On one of the legs of my journey the US Air Flight Attendant asked if she could take a picture of Bear up in the seat with me. I said yes. What you see is that picture. Since my beloved Bear has passed, I have used this photograph as my online picture. Keep in mind, that Bear’s place was on the floor in the front bulkhead but he was relocated to take the picture.

      (picture did not transfer)

      The purchase of the bulkhead seating negated the need to purchase an additional
      seat for my service dog. The problem arose when my prepaid bulkhead window seat was given to a USAir employee. I asked the stewardess to remove the man from my assigned seat, but she refused. The air stewardess instructed me to move to an aisle seat. However, my service dog encroached six
      inches into the aisle. Next, the stewardess offered to have my service dog and I move to the
      two empty seats four rows back. I therefore felt in order to protect my dog’s life, I placed him in the seat beside me. There was not a doubt in my mind that my service dog would not be able to fit on the floor safely. It was at that point that the stewardess said the dog cannot sit in the seat. If I’d been allowed to be in the seat that I had actually purchased, this situation would not have occurred. My dog was too large to safely lay on the floor as the space was just too small. The flight attendant told me that it was against the law for a dog to sit in the seat of an airplane. There is no such law. This is at the point where other passengers started videotaping the incident where I was fighting
      for my dogs life. There was a Veteran who supported me with applause, and another Veteran whom I am sure would have clapped but he had only one hand. You never see this support on the video clip.

      I checked in with the airline well over an hour early. USAir knew I was there with my dog and knew in advance the special situation which brought up the need for my buying the bulkhead seating. USAir did not follow Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulations and remove the man from the seat
      that I had purchased. The following will help explain how I believe my rights were violated:

      Seating Accommodations (The Airline knew I was flying with a service dog and they should
      not have ordered me to give up my advanced purchased seating).

      Complaints and Enforcement Procedures (I have repeatedly complained to DOT and nothing has
      been done).

      I even have taped conversations with some of these federal agencies.

      I was arrested and removed from the plane. During this time I was totally separated from my service dog. This was unacceptable as the whole point of a service animal is to be beside the person’s side at all times. The judge dismissed the charges brought against me by USAir. I committed no crime, yet I am being treated as if I did by USAir, DOT and ACAA. Ron Hope, Commander of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) at that time wrote a well written letter to USAir and they have not responded. The current DAV leadership has not offered to help what so ever, follow up on the outgoing commanders letter of concern about how I and other Veterans were being treated by this Airline.

      I want an apology from USAir, DOT and the ACAA. All anyone knows is what they have seen on YouTube and this is the part of me arguing to protect my dog’s life. They do not see the reason for the
      confrontation which was the US Air employee taking up my assigned seating or the fact that the charges were dismissed. I have all of my receipts and documents of proving the purchase of the bulkhead seating. Any pro bono or contingency legal help is appreciated or any other help getting my side of the story out.
      Read more
      Reply

      • Thank you for your comment. I’m still devastated by that whole ordeal. Please notice how none of the passengers were upset with me. I have committed no crime. The Arizona Judge DISMISSED the charges brought against me by USAir. Had USAir not given my prepaid bulkhead window seat to another USAir employee this event would never have happened. USAir owes me an apology. What do you think?

        I was protecting my Dogs life.

    • Me to. I have not committed any crime, yet I was arrested. The Arizona Judge Dismissed the charges brought against me by USAir. I purchased round trip bulkhead window seating 3 months prior. USAir gave my seat to another USAir employee and moved me and my service dog to the location you see in the video I lost the protection of the bulkhead. The floor space was to small and the bars under the seat in front was extremely dangerous. I was protecting my dogs life. Thank you:

  2. Sad as it may seem that man was totally in the wrong. He swore in front of children and other passengers and could have upset his dog too. He should be ashamed of his behaviour. Being disabled doesn’t give you the right to be a rude, violent idiot

    xxxx

    • yup, you served your country and suffer from PTSD, do ya? If not shut up. PTSD is real and destroys a person’s ability to live like the rest of civilians. We want killers when we need them, and then condemn them when they break. Enjoy your constitutional rights.

      • No. I do not have post traumatic stress disorder as a result of war but both my grandfather’s did. One used to wake up screaming in the night and loud noises used to set off episodes but he was always able to make the choice to calm down so he did not frighten me or my little brothers. Do not speak to me as if I don’t understand. I have seen the haunted look in their eyes. For the last year of his life I was the carer of one of my grandfathers

        PTSD is a terrible thing but it does not cause you to swear in front of children.

        I’m very sorry for the poor man but that does not excuse his behaviour. I will not insult you or order you into silence. Nor will I demand to know if you or someone you know has PTSD

        I am entitled to my opinion just as much as you are entitled to yours.

        Let us leave it at that shall we?

        ~ Amy

      • Thank you for speaking up. Do know that, what you see in the video is just the middle of the story? In the beginning I purchased round trip bulkhead seating for me and my 80lb service dog Bear. On the last flight USAir gave my seat to another USAir employee and offered me the 2 empty seats 4 rows back. The floor space was to small and the bars under the seat in front was very dangerous. There is no law against a dog siting in the seat of airplanes ( JUST GOOGLE IT ) You’ll see. I committed no crime. The Arizona Judge dismissed the charges brought against me by USAir. I would very much appreciate reply. Thank you

    • hutchagoolifelife: You are amazing, I have never met anyone who has done a better job of making a whole story out of knowing, just the Middle of the story. I will share with you the beginning and the end of the whole story. The Biginning I Purchased round trip bulkhead window seating.for me and my service dog. The last flight USAir gave my bulkhead seat to a USAir employee and moved me, against my wishes to the, and I Quote, the 2 empty seats 4 rows back. The floor was not an option. The floor space was to small and the bars under the seat in front was just down right dangerous. I was protecting the life of my dog Bear. I have not committed any crime, I broke no laws. The Arizona Judge DISMISSED the charges brought against me by USAir. Please respond. I would like to hear from you, Now that you know the full story. Please I need your help.. Thank you

      Please notice how none of the other passengers were upset with me and that USAir had me separated from my service dog. Thats wrong.

  3. This Disabled Veteran paid for round trip bulkhead window seating because he had a 80lb service animal ( 3 months prior to this incident ). the disabled veteran checked in with USair 1hr prior to take off. USair gave the disabled veterans seat to another passenger. The disabled veteran was offered the 2 empty seats 4 rows back, hardly enough room for a grown man to sit,and with a 80lb service animal at his feet made it unrealistic. This disabled veteran was picked on and pushed to the point of lashing out as you see on the video. USair states that it is against the law to have a dog sit in the seat of an airplane. There is no such law, just google it ( dog sitting in the seat of airplanes ) you will see many dogs sitting seats ). The disabled veteran and his service dog were taken off the plane and put into jail for trespassing at the request of USair. The court judge DISMISSED the charges. The Disabled American Veteran oraganization known as the DAV. wrote of this event to USair and of other disabled veterans. This disabled veteran committed no crime.

  4. I am a disabled combat veteran turned master level social worker. I have helped Mr. Johnson put together his side of the story as it relates to this video; something that has not yet been told. My friend Terry Johnson has asked that I include his statement in my post. Before I post his comments (he has already done so on this thread–am just going it again at his request) keep in mind that by the time you see this video, Mr. Johnson had been provoked, picked on and pushed to the point of the outburst you see on the video. Very shameful for this airline. What follows is a re post of the document I helped him with yesterday.

    Robert Sanchez Langston, MSW, BSW
    SFC, US Army (Ret)
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Disabled Veteran’s Response and Complete Account of where I (Terry Johnson) was Kicked Off of USAir Flight

    This letter is in response to the video placed on YouTube in which I ( Terry Johnson) am the subject. The video can be found on YouTube under the heading of, “Disabled Veteran Kicked Off USAir
    Flight.” I felt the need to explain the complete story that was not conveyed by the video.
    I purchased the round trip tickets through Sun Travel out of El Paso Texas for bulkhead window seating three months in advance. I let the travel agency know I was traveling with a service dog. They indicated they would let US Air know. Keep in mind, I had traveled all over with Bear, my service dog. This was the final leg of the return trip—and the only time I had any problem.

    On one of the legs of my journey the US Air Flight Attendant asked if she could take a picture of Bear up in the seat with me. I said yes. What you see is that picture. Since my beloved Bear has passed, I have used this photograph as my online picture. Keep in mind, that Bear’s place was on the floor in the front bulkhead but he was relocated to take the picture.

    (picture did not transfer)

    The purchase of the bulkhead seating negated the need to purchase an additional
    seat for my service dog. The problem arose when my prepaid bulkhead window seat was given to a USAir employee. I asked the stewardess to remove the man from my assigned seat, but she refused. The air stewardess instructed me to move to an aisle seat. However, my service dog encroached six
    inches into the aisle. Next, the stewardess offered to have my service dog and I move to the
    two empty seats four rows back. I therefore felt in order to protect my dog’s life, I placed him in the seat beside me. There was not a doubt in my mind that my service dog would not be able to fit on the floor safely. It was at that point that the stewardess said the dog cannot sit in the seat. If I’d been allowed to be in the seat that I had actually purchased, this situation would not have occurred. My dog was too large to safely lay on the floor as the space was just too small. The flight attendant told me that it was against the law for a dog to sit in the seat of an airplane. There is no such law. This is at the point where other passengers started videotaping the incident where I was fighting
    for my dogs life. There was a Veteran who supported me with applause, and another Veteran whom I am sure would have clapped but he had only one hand. You never see this support on the video clip.

    I checked in with the airline well over an hour early. USAir knew I was there with my dog and knew in advance the special situation which brought up the need for my buying the bulkhead seating. USAir did not follow Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulations and remove the man from the seat
    that I had purchased. The following will help explain how I believe my rights were violated:

    Seating Accommodations (The Airline knew I was flying with a service dog and they should
    not have ordered me to give up my advanced purchased seating).

    Complaints and Enforcement Procedures (I have repeatedly complained to DOT and nothing has
    been done).

    I even have taped conversations with some of these federal agencies.

    I was arrested and removed from the plane. During this time I was totally separated from my service dog. This was unacceptable as the whole point of a service animal is to be beside the person’s side at all times. The judge dismissed the charges brought against me by USAir. I committed no crime, yet I am being treated as if I did by USAir, DOT and ACAA. Ron Hope, Commander of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) at that time wrote a well written letter to USAir and they have not responded. The current DAV leadership has not offered to help what so ever, follow up on the outgoing commanders letter of concern about how I and other Veterans were being treated by this Airline.

    I want an apology from USAir, DOT and the ACAA. All anyone knows is what they have seen on YouTube and this is the part of me arguing to protect my dog’s life. They do not see the reason for the
    confrontation which was the US Air employee taking up my assigned seating or the fact that the charges were dismissed. I have all of my receipts and documents of proving the purchase of the bulkhead seating. Any pro bono or contingency legal help is appreciated or any other help getting my side of the story out.
    Read more
    Reply

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