I was on SW Flight 612 on Sunday, 8/13 from LAX to ATL and experienced a very challenging and humiliating interaction with the flight attendant team onboard, before takeoff. I’m an A-List Preferred member and Purchased a Business Select ticket traveling with my husband and Companion Pass holder along with our Emotional Support Animal. As part of our reservation process, we called ahead to inform SW that I’d be traveling with my Emotional Assistance/Support Animal and to get the EAA status added to my reservation. Upon arrival to the airport, I checked-in and had the front desk staff verify my Doctor’s letter. After completing the verification, she reprinted my boarding pass with the EAA designation and medical pre-board status. We boarded the plane with no incident and the grounds crew person kept our boarding passes after scanning. The incident: As the boarding process was ending, someone from the grounds operations crew came onto the plane and asked to verify our EAA status and requested to see a copy of our Dr. Letter. I explained that we already completed that verification process before going through security and our boarding passes indicated such; therefore, I did not feel comfortable being called out a second time and wanted to know more about why this was happening. She explained that one of the flight attendants had noticed our dog and requested to have the operations crew come back on board to verify our status. This was very frustrating to hear, so again I refused and asked that they simply look at my boarding pass (which was in her possession, not mine) to verify this. (Only later did I realize that the EAA status had also been included on my mobile boarding pass, but at the time I failed to recall that given the high intensity of the pressure with the SW staff at the moment.) She then responds with, “Well sir, if you didn’t do anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide and it shouldn’t be a problem to show us your documentation again. We need to see it before we can take off so please show it to me now so that you’re not holding everyone else us.” She also threw out an under the breath comment about having to call out the captain, which I did not want to have to deal with on top of the current embarrassment. I found the accusation of “if I didn’t do anything wrong” to be incredibly insulting given that I had followed all protocols and there was no justifiable reason for being called out this way. I eventually capitulated and brought our my documents from my Dr. I carry two different letters describing my EAA need, one of which lists out all of my medications related to my condition. These documents were now being read in plain sight of passengers sitting nearby on a full flight. I explained to the woman reading it, “this one includes all my medications”, but she didn’t attempt to respect my privacy in the situation, she simply kept reviewing things in front of the other passengers. The entire flight was completely silent by this point and everyone was starring and listening. These passengers also had to witness me and my husband going through this humiliating experience and being questioned like we had done something wrong and we might potentially be the reason for holding up the flight from taking off. She then informed the flight attendant who had questioned us that we were good to go and she left. Terri was then embarrassed and hid in front corner and refused to make eye contact with us for the rest of the flight. By this point, no one offered a single apology for what they put us through and acted as if what they did was appropriate and okay.
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