— Becky Wheeler (@beckywheeler74) November 27, 2016
When Bryant Weasel was flying home from his first family vacation, things didn't go smoothly.
The 12-year-old boy suffers from Dravet syndrome, which is a rare form of epilepsy that develops during infancy and causes prolonged and often repetitive, severe seizures. To help during the unpredictable episodes, Bryant has a beloved service dog, Chug, who was accompanying the family on their flight home.
This was the Weasel family's first trip that involved a flight — that wasn't an air ambulance — and they didn't have any issues flying with their 110-pound Golden Doodle on their first two flights to South Carolina. However, after the family boarded their returning connection flight on Thanksgiving day, American Airlines allegedly said that Chug was too large and kicked them off of the plane.
Bryant's mom, Amy Weasel, had contacted the airline before they booked their trip to ask about Chug and see if accommodations could be made for his size. The family was told that although the airline requires animals to fit on a passenger's lap or under their seat, it wouldn't be a problem and were able to book bulkhead seats with extra legroom for the dog.
"This was the first time we have ever flown with Bryant. We decided we couldn't keep him in a bubble and we wanted to give him the opportunity to see the beach," Amy told Daily Mail.
When Bryant, his parents, and his older sister boarded their connecting flight on PSA Airlines, a flight attendant not only told the family that Chug was too large but also questioned whether he was in fact even a service dog, according to Daily Mail. They were then moved from their assigned seats to another row with less legroom.
When the flight attendant then insisted that Chug fit under Bryant's seat, it was clear that the dog was too large and the family was asked to leave the flight. "You could tell right away from her demeanor, her attitude, and her body language that she did not like animals," Amy told Fox Charlotte.
American Airlines owns the regional airline and has since apologized for the episode. They also offered Amy a $150 voucher but monetary compensation isn't what she wants. "Hopefully they will hire people that have some compassion for the disabled folks in the community. And my hope is that nobody else will have to go through this," Amy said.