A November 8, 2023 incident at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston involving United Airlines and the family of US Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) over a dog appears to be far more complicated than the Congressman has thus far admitted.
Dan Crenshaw Tells An Incomplete Story About Skirmish Between United Airlines Agent And His Wife Over Dog
Crenshaw took to X over the weekend to tell his side of the story, alleging:
- United Airlines refused to allow his dog to travel in the cabin despite having no issues on previous trips
- A United Airlines agent in Houston attempted to “grab the dog” in order to photograph it as a pretense for banning Crenshw’s family from future travel on United
- Crenshaw requested and was granted a meeting with Phillip Griffith, who is the Vice President of United’s Houston hub
- During that meeting, of which Crenshaw shared excerpted audio clips, Griffith is heard saying, “I deal with people like you and your wife and customers like you every single day.”
- He then tells Crewnshaw to “shut up” and purportedly attempts to grab Crenshw’s laptop (which he was using to record the conversation) after Crenshaw yells, “It’s on the f*ing video!” when explaining his side of the story
This is one of the more aggressive videos I’ve ever had to post. You really need to see it all the way to the end. You’ll see a United agent grab the dog and personal property, and you’ll hear the shocking recording of my conversation with that agent’s supervisor (the VP of… pic.twitter.com/xhK0v4zQzw
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) January 21, 2024
As a result of the incident, the Congressman has voiced support for a passenger bill of rights in the USA and pledges to “look into legislation…to protect consumers and protect passengers from people like that.”
What Really Happened At IAH
Crewnshaw’s initial post did not pass my smell test. Take a close look at the video above and it appears the agent was simply ripping a yellow tag off of the animal carrier. Live And Let’s Fly went to work getting to the bottom of what occurred.
Here’s what really happened: the dog was too big to be accommodated on the flight. Simple as that. Crenshaw’s wife was trying to bring onboard a dog that could not even comfortably fit in its pet carrier.
On united.com, you can find the following restriction concerning in-cabin pets:
The pet must be able to stand up and turn around while inside.
But the Congressman’s dog was too big to do this! It visibly pushed up the top of its soft-sided pet carrier.
Consistent with United’s clearly-defined rules and in order to protect the dog, the family was told the dog could not fly (with few exceptions, United no longer accepts dogs in the cargo hold).
Notice that Crenshaw never mentions the size of his dog or provides evidence showing that the dog fit in the carrier.
This is the tag the agent reached for:
Houston is a big hub. With that yellow tag, ostensibly from a previous flight, the family could conceivably have simply boarded another flight with the dog.
Look again at the video. When the check-in agent, a supervisor, attempted to remove the tag from the pet carrier, it was Crenshaw’s wife who physically grabbed the representative…if there was any “assault” it does not appear to be the United agent who committed assault.
That said, the agent probably should not have bothered to try to take the tag back and I understand that is frustrating to have your dog accommodated in the past and suddenly no longer accommodated. That said, leniency in the past does not guarantee leniency in the future if the dog is too big.
The Griffith Conversation
I met Griffith when in Houston for the Airbus A321neo inaugural apparently just days after the incident occurred. Griffith was affable, kind, and gregarious…I can see why United asked him to sit down with Griffith. He’s also the VP of the Houston hub.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Profanity is the parlance of the fool” and I share in Griffith’s offense over the Congressman’s unnecessary foul mouth. Opposing vulgar profanity is not being a snowflake as much as it is not tolerating snowflakes who cannot be bothered to speak like a civilized person.
Crewnshaw has quite a history of profanity and I realize that is part of his persona. Interestingly, Live And Let’s Fly has further learned that Crenshaw has used profanity before toward United employees when it was determined that his dog was too large to fly. We are working on obtaining more details about that.
In a subsequent conversation with United, Crenshaw alleged that the dog was a “service animal.” There is no size limitation for such animals. When asked what service the dog was trained to perform, there was no answer from Crenshaw’s legal counsel. Furthermore, a Department of Transportation form must be presented when traveling with a service animal, which does not appear to have been presented on November 8th.
Here’s the kicker: Crenshaw’s dog apparently has a “heart condition” which makes the claim that it is a service dog quite questionable.
I frequently write about the abuse of service animals onboard and one thing is certain: service animals are not placed in pet carriers. It appears that this pet became a “service animal” when it was deemed too big to travel in the cabin.
United has issued the following statement concerning Crenshaw’s video on Twitter:
“We attempted to work with the Congressman to resolve his concerns amicably. We disagree with his characterization of what happened, and stand behind our employees who were upholding United’s policies on in-cabin pets to ensure the safety of his dog.”
A Note To Congressman Crenshaw
Dear Congressman Crenshaw, why are you choosing to distort what happened here in such a self-serving way? Remember when you freaked out over Jesse Watters distorting your capital gains from stocks? You were right to do so. Standing up to the Freedom Caucus and the 1/6 insurrectionists earns you respect in my book. I quite support the idea of a thoughtfully tailored passenger bill of rights, especially after US airlines milked US taxpayers during the pandemic.
But you’re wrong on the dog issue. It does not appear your wife was assaulted. On the contrary, it appears that your wife assaulted the United agent. And as a veteran, I hope you understand that when you try to claim a dog is a “service dog” when it is not, it hurts those like your fellow veterans who actually rely upon such animals. Claiming your pet is a “service dog” in order to avoid in-cabin fees or size restrictions is shameful. Abuse of “service dogs” is rampant and I would love to see legislation cracking down on this.
Please post a picture of the dog inside the pet carrier. Also, please post an unredacted of your conversation with Griffith.
A United flight attendant threw me off a flight on the basis of a lie…it’s not that I cannot imagine your side of the story being true or that there are no bad apples at United. But in this case, I think you omit key details in order to tell a one-sided and self-serving story and that is beneath your office.
Dan Crenshaw believes that United assaulted his wife and unfairly treated him. I don’t buy it. Instead, I think the Congressman and his family were very upset over their dog being denied passage at IAH.
I hope the Congressman will be more forthcoming in releasing the full audio of his conversation with Griffith and providing further details from his perspective as to what led to this incident in the first place.