American family nearly forced to abandon service dog Coconut overseas after airline refused to fly him back

1 year ago 334
  • A Bay Area woman received an alert prohibiting dogs from Lufthansa Airlines before her flight home.
  • Lufthansa requested proof that 'Coconut' was a service dog despite flying him to Romania without it.
  • ABC7's '7 On Your Side' stepped in to help the Burdeti family fly Coconut home, report says.

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A California family was nearly forced to fly home from Romania without their service dog after an airline sent an alert suspending dogs onboard.

Veronica Burdeti and her family — including her beloved dog Coconut — had no issues on their Lufthansa Airlines flight to Romania. But an unexplained alert prohibiting dogs from flying shocked the family as they prepared to return to the US.

"I told my husband, 'It must be a mistake,'" Burdeti said to ABC7.

Burdeti's plea for the airline to allow Coconut onboard due to his status as a service dog was met with a request for proof of certification from a training facility.

Lufthansa's pet travel policy outlines that weight, size, and local regulations all factor in determining whether or not an animal can fly in the passenger cabin, and "special rules apply to assistance dogs."

"I was like, 'You let me travel with the dog to Romania. You don't allow me to travel with the dog back to US?'" she said.

Burdeti trained Coconut herself  after a cancer diagnosis in 2021 led to physical and mental health issues, according to the report.

There were only a few other options — including sending Coconut home on the 11-hour flight in a cargo hold — Burdeti told ABC7. Lufthansa did not respond to a request for comment, but eventually allowed the dog to ride home with the family in the cabin.

"It was really stressful for me to think he's not coming back home," Burdeti said. "I told my husband I'm 100% sure God sent me this dog because I needed him."

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