Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I don’t fly often and I’ve heard from lots of people that things have
gotten very bad. But my experience this weekend is beyond the
beyond. I was seated for two hours waiting for takeoff next to a
woman and her “service dog.” The woman seemed perfectly fine. She
could see and hear. She spent most of our time on the runway talking
loudly on her cell phone while her “service dog” sat on her lap and
drooled onto mine. Did I mention that I was asked to change the
window seat that I had reserved (and paid an upgrade for) because
her “service dog” “likes to look out the window.” I ended up in a
middle seat and to top it all off when I turned to the stewardess for a
refill on my drink, the “service dog” licked my meal and sneezed on it.
Other than expressing my profound disgust and disbelief that this dog
was in fact needed as a service dog, what can or should I do next


Dear Angry:

I am neither a lawyer nor a frequent flyer. There may in fact be
regulations about disabled people travelling with true service dogs that
give them some privileges. But as a paying customer you also have
some rights. One might have been to say No, thank you I also have
needs and prefer to keep my reserved window seat. Perhaps someone
in another row will trade. Another might have been to ask the
stewardess for a seat reassignment, though you could easily have
ended up in a middle seat elsewhere on the plane. Or at worst move to
another flight, but that puts the onus all on you. You are certainly
owed a refund for the seat reservation and the meal. A letter to the
airline’s customer service department cc their CEO might also net you
some air miles as partial compensation.

All of that said, no one but the pet owner and that person’s doctor can
truly know what medical or psychological needs the dog is providing.
As much hassle as the “service dog” was to you , it may be small
compared to the benefit of your fellow traveler. Imagine sitting next to
someone having, for example, a psychotic episode because of fear of
flying. That may be an extreme example, but without full information
you cannot know if you were sitting next to a very clever scammer or
a truly ill person. Welcome back to solid ground. Write the airlines and
stamp your feet until you get something back.