Boy allergy service dog passengers laughed applauded
Source: KING-TV Channel 5 News.

Update: Misinterpretation of Applause From Passengers Over Allergic Boy? What Really Matters is…

here has been a lot of controversy over reports from the media — including this article posted here at The Gate — pertaining to the story of a boy who suffered a significant allergic reaction to a dog nearby that he and his family agreed to leave the airplane at the request of members of the flight crew; and applause from some passengers occurred as a result.

“There has to be more to the story. At least I hope so”, reader Bob D opined in the Comments section of the aforementioned article. “Even heartless people would not openly celebrate someones medical emergency.”

I agreed with him — and I still do; but at that time, I did not have additional information available…

…until now, where there may have apparently been some misinterpretation of applause from passengers over the boy in question.

Applause Similar to Injured Athlete Taken Off the Field

“When the family members got to the front of the plane, a handful of passengers at the back of the plane, six at most, started lightly applauding”, said Carole Burton, who was one of the passengers aboard the airplane, according to this article written by Dawn Gilbertson of The Arizona Republic. “‘Have you ever been to a sporting event and somebody gets knocked down on the field and they get helped up and people cheer? That’s how I took it,’ she said. ‘I didn’t take it as a negative at all. I just thought it was kind of applauding, cheering them on, happy you’re getting help.’” It was not interpreted as “Yay, get these people off the plane so I could get on with our lives.”

I suppose I can understand that point of view; but I personally would not have applauded either way if I were a passenger aboard that airplane. I certainly would have been hopeful and thankful that the boy was going to be all right. Still, I can also understand how — if what Carole Burton reportedly said was indeed true — the family could have misinterpreted the applause differently.

Janet VanderYacht — who also was a passenger aboard that airplane — was “momentarily startled by the applause” and initially thought it was strange; but interpreted it as “Good, we’re going to take off.”

However, a third passenger — who was contacted by The Arizona Republic — backed up the version of events as interpreted by the family in question; and a spokesperson for Allegiant Air reportedly could not confirm reports of what really happened aboard the airplane…

…meaning we may never know the actual truth — but is that really the point?


Learning of the desire of the family to visit Disneyland for a vacation before the father of the family possibly dies from terminal stage four throat cancer, Southwest Airlines will reportedly grant members of the family that wish by treating them to that trip for four days and three nights. That is the good news — perhaps a positive end to this story in particular — and I wish all of the best for that family…

…but the problem of animals and allergic people aboard an airplane still has not been resolved. The dog — which was on the manifest of the flight — was reported to be a service animal. If it was indeed a bonafide service dog which its owner requires for legitimate reasons, I can understand the boy being removed from the aircraft so as not to delay the flight…

…but if the dog was a pet being passed off as an “emotional support animal”, then this incident is a classic example of why changes to the federal law in the United States need to be enacted as soon as possible.

I have searched and — at this time — still cannot find definitive information as to whether or not the dog in question was a legitimate service dog or a pet being passed off as an “emotional support animal.”

As for the media hype, yes — I will admit that I am guilty of feeding into it; but I would have dismissed the story altogether had it not been for the increasingly flagrant abuse some passengers have recently been exhibiting in taking advantage of laws which inadvertently permit them to travel with their pets under the guise of “emotional support animals” without having to pay for them while sometimes simultaneously causing discomfort to fellow passengers…

…and that is an important issue which still needs to be addressed.

Source: KING-TV Channel 5 News.

    1. Tell you what, Marco: read over all of the articles posted at The Gate since its inception ten years ago. If you can find an article where I personally wrote — and sincerely meant — that I indeed “hate dogs”, I will treat you to a vacation of your choice — all expense paid.

      Hint to save you some time and effort: I do not hate dogs…

  1. Thank you for once again bringing to our attention the issue of service animals on board commercial aircraft and the possibility pet owners are abusing the ability for those with documented psychological needs to transit with an emotional support animal.

    It would not be unfathomable for the service animal in this situation to be a standard family pet, for which the family did not want to pay the fees imposed by Allegiant Airlines, ultimately resulting in the young boy on this flight to suffer an allergic reaction to the presence of the pet.

    1. That is exactly my point, Greg; and thank you for reading.

      We have more than enough legitimate issues with which we need to contend without the selfishness of some people to exacerbate those problems…

  2. I still don’t buy the view that they were applauding because the boy got helped. They were clapping when the family was walking off the plane and it doesn’t appear they got any medical help on the plane. I don’t think the family were too happy to be walking off the plane and you then see a bunch of people clapping. How else would you interpret the situation? I think more than likely, they felt the family was delaying the flight and were clapping because they can finally leave.

    However as you indicated, the real problem is that too many people are trying to take advantage of the service animal loop hole, and the airlines are doing nothing to prevent it. The airline is allowed to ask for the function of the service animal. I wonder if they’ve questioned the owner.

  3. Oh come on Brian, ‘fess up. You just hate delicious, I mean misunderstood, emotional support turkeys. The rest of this is just dressing, err, window dressing. That reminds me, time to eat…
    In all seriousness though, you’re completely correct about the abuse of bringing pets aboard as supposed service animals. Yesterday, Rene had pictures of a woman carrying her dog over the food area in a Skyclub. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be repulsed. Revulsion won.

    1. You will never believe this, Christian

      …but I am actually having turkey for dinner tonight.

      I am being completely serious…

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