I am glad to stumble upon this reply. I would just like to say that you speak for a lot of us. It is so unfortunate to see how quickly people can pass judgement on others. Invisible disabilities do exist and they are real. I have flown a few times with SWA with my ESA dog. After complying with all requirements needed (letter from my doctor with diagnosis less than a year old) the airline has not given me any troubles. I wish I could say the same with the whole experience. People can be so cruel. The looks they give can speak a thousand words and some are just hurtful and unfair. My disability is my business, it is private and not something I like to flaunt. The fact that I need an ESA dog to accompany me for every flight and for everyone to see this is not easy. It's like I've announced to the world that I was flawed - I might as well wear a vest too. I am happy that I am able to travel, get out of the house and join civilization sometimes although I would prefer not to. My ESA dog not only calms me but takes my mind away from all the noise and anxieties of the outside world. Although it may appear that I am taking care of her, her presence keeps me busy and focused on her instead of my own issues. I wish people could understand that and stop judging. You don't know my story. The last flight back to LAX was the worst. Out of courtesy and to avoid more nasty looks I opted to skip pre-boarding. Anxiety was quite high for me that day and I wanted to stay as invisible as possible. Even with a boarding group of B I was surprised to see that there were very few seats left on the plane. My teen daughter and I (with my ESA) proceeded to the back of the plane - only middle seats available. With 4 bags already checked-in we quickly realized that we may have overpacked one of our carry-ons thus making it quite difficult for my daughter to lift into the overhead bin. It was a scene I was trying so hard to avoid. As much as I wanted to help her, my physical disabilities did not allow this. It felt like the air was getting thin and my heart began to race. Thank God for a very kind passenger who offered to help. As my daughter and I stood there trying to assist the kind passenger in finding the right angle to make our carry-on fit into the overhead bin, the seats began to disappear. From the back of the plane I heard a flight attendant ask in a condescending tone "whose bag is that?" - I said ours. As she stood a few inches away from my face she looked at my ESA dog, looked at me and rolled her eyes as she turned around to walk away. I had to ask why she had to do that and she responded that she felt sorry for the man that was helping us and that we should have checked the bag in. It was embarrassing to be put on the spot like that in the middle of the aisle. Were we being reprimanded for receiving assistance from another passenger who voluntarily offered to help us? As I tried to frantically find a seat, the first 3 middle seats I attempted to sit in had passengers refusing to sit with me and my dog. They all claimed to be allergic to dogs. It was such a horrible feeling to walk up and down the aisle desperately trying to get away from the center of other people's snickering and insensitive comments. Luckily, with the help of one of the flight attendants I was able to find a seat in the middle of passengers not having a problem with my dog. I am very thankful to these 2 gentlemen who allowed my ESA dog and I to get away from the embarrassment. I apologize for crying my eyes out for the whole duration of the trip. It is a disability that I have no control over and one of which I never wished to have. I may walk and talk like you but I am not you. Please learn to respect that.
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