Blind Man and Service Dog Kicked Off Flight, and Passengers Object


Written by: Phil Monahan

Here’s an remarkable story about people standing up for a blind man’s service dog. When a U.S. Airways flight attendant claimed that Albert Rizzi’s guide dog was not “stowed properly” after an hour delay on the tarmac and started giving him guff about it, his fellow passengers took his side. Amazingly, this resulted in the pilot turning the plane around and the airline cancelling the flight.

“When we, the passengers, realized what was going on, we were, like, ‘Why is this happening? He’s not a problem. What is going on?'” said [passenger Frank] Ohlhorst. “And we all kind of raised our voices and said, ‘This is a real problem.’ The captain came out of the cockpit and he basically asked us all to leave the aircraft.”

The airline instead bused the passengers from Philadelphia to Islip, New York, which was the flight’s destination. The bus trip took three-and-a-half hours, whereas the flight would have been under an hour.

One would think that if the flight’s passengers are willing to be that inconvenienced to stand up for Rizzi, the airline would realize that the flight attendant was in the wrong. Nope. They claim that the unrest by the passengers created a safety hazard.

Click here for the full story.

117 thoughts on “Blind Man and Service Dog Kicked Off Flight, and Passengers Object

      1. Larry Stiff

        Airlines are not held liable under the ADA as most perceive (including the service dog teams), but rather is held liable under the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) when it comes to discrimination against service dog teams. The saddest part about all this, attorneys are very difficult to find that will help you as a service dog team. Seems impossible to get an attorney as well AFTER filing a complaint under the ACAA. The complaint would be filed with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Since an attorney for the DOT does the investigation, most attorneys will not touch it as another attorney has now seen it. Maverick and I were refused a boarding pass in September of 2015 because I simply refused to pay an additional $200 they were trying to charge. This was when I found all the information about who to file a complaint for discrimination. Now it’s difficult to find legal help! Thank you American Airlines for treating be so horrible! Since American was found in violation of my rights by the ACAA, they still have the audacity of a mind to not apologize for anything! All being said, thanks to all the passengers who stood up for this service dog team. I highly commend your actions! We need more folks like yourself standing up for us! These remarks are a reminder that big organizations can do what they want and when they want to those who utilize a service dog for needed assistance. We have these dogs because it allows us more independence and not intended to be punching bags for organizations who feel the need to mistreat us! Best wishes to all!

        Reply
    1. laura

      I would certainly never fly this airline after this, this was stupid! So glad these people stood up for what was right

      Reply
      1. leah

        I agree I will never fly with this airline and will recommend anyone I know who is going to fly anywhere choose a different airline! This is horrible!

        Reply
    2. JOHN FERRIE

      I WOULD SUE THAT AIRLINE.THAT WAS JUST PLAIN DISCRIMINATION.TO BE BLIND IS HARD ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH,THEN TO HAVE PEOPLE TREAT YOU THAT WAY.THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR IT.I WILL NEVER FLY THAT AIRLINE!!!!

      Reply
  1. Susan Reid

    What airline was this?? Service dogs for the blind are allowed EVERYWHERE their person goes, no exceptions. Even guide dogs in training have the same privileges because they have to learn how to behave.
    I’m proud the passengers knew better.

    Reply
    1. Maya

      Yes they consider a service dog a tool much like a wheelchair and we do have to “stow” our service dogs properly but they should be able to lay at your feet in the bulk head. My first dog would barely fit under the seat in front of me. My current dog never would.

      Reply
    1. Colleen

      Thanks for the address, I just sent Doug Parker an email also. It is important that he gets LOTS of emails about this.

      Reply
    2. Connie

      Thank you for the information! This is so sad that a so called professionally trained person would treat a passenger with such disreguard! I will never fly with this airline again and I hope that the publicity that this story receives will make others do the same!

      Reply
  2. melanie ashlin

    i would have happily had the dog on my lap,and the blind man next to me.What is wrong with the air line very wrong on them.

    .

    Reply
  3. Lyn

    So wrong to not realize that “being human” is more important than narrow-minded safety rules. And because those people stuck up for him, they just ousted them because they couldn’t face that they were being inhumane arses. I wasn’t there, yet I doubt they started rioting. I AM SO PROUD OF THEM FOR STICKING UP FOR HIM & THE DOG!!! NON-COMPASSION=SADNESS Airlines have become such pains in the asses. If it weren’t for JetBlue, I don’t think I would ever fly. And I’ll never use Newark airport again-those douchebags made me miss my flight and violated my rights, & forced me to get disgusting germs all over everything in my luggage– inhumane, grimy morons!! IF YOU WANT TO BE HARASSED FLY FROM NEWARK!!!

    Reply
    1. Linda Brumley

      This is not even funny. I think this airline should apologize & make his next flight free, although I don’tthink the airline will even realize they have done sumthin wrong. This is just so sad

      Reply
    1. David p.

      I think you all miss the point. Suppose there was severe turbulence. Everything in the cabin (passengers, baggage, and everything else) MUST be secured to prevent injury or death. How would you feel if the dog in this flight was severely injured because it was hurled against the cabin door or if your grandmother was killed by impact with the unsecured dog? The airlines cannot simply ignore their legal obligation to ensure safety to all passengers simply because many passengers feel pity for a blind man and his seeing-eye dog.

      Reply
      1. kj

        Are you kidding. Really flying around the cabin killing grandmothers.
        I understand safety but I also understand the rights of the handicapped. He had every right to
        have that dog with him on the plane. These dogs are trained to behave well so the dog could not have been causing any problems. This airline needs to admit that they were wrong and at least issue a public apology to this man and his dog and all the other passengers that they inconvienced to save face due to their attendant not knowing policies.

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      2. Kathy

        I dont think pity had a single thing to do with this. But, had everything to do with what is right. Flight attendants and pilots have both become such assholes. It’s all about power and control with them. I see it all the time. I’m sure the attendant had to step over the dogs tail or something that inconvenienced them. I’ve never liked US Airways and I can assure you I will never fly it again.

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      3. Doggie Lover

        Stow it, David. You and I both know that these people have little control over anything in their lives until they board that plane, where they turn into Nazis! U.S. Air had enough to be ashamed of with their on-time percentage at 17. They are bullies.

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      4. Cynthia

        David,
        To properly “stow” the seeing eye dog one would have to contain the dog in a kennal that would have to be carried in the belly of the airplane, an area that is not heated or presurized, making the blind man feel like he has no independance. What about people who carry thier pet dogs on the plane in thier purses how safe is that?

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      5. lee

        On that note you can also say what if the bus they took was hit by a car. Then everyong is at risk on the bus and shouldn’t have taken a bus because of safety obligations. If you try you can IF any situation to death. Good for the passengers.

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      6. theenglishrider

        No, I think you are missing the point. The aircraft was STILL ON THE GROUND and planes on the tarmac are not in danger of encountering turbulence. There had been an extended ground delay and the dog got upto stretch. The person in the next seat offered to move to give the dog more room because of this extended delay.

        That flight crew was just looking for a reason to cancel the flight after sitting on the tarmac for so long. They found one, but I believe they bit of quite a larger bite than they intended.

        Reply
  4. maria

    happy holidays US jerk, think of all the holiday travelers your dumb ass just lost. all those passengers deserve a medal for standing up for the blind man & dog

    Reply
  5. Catharine

    Just so all you guys know, there are still rules aboard a plane EVEN involving a guide dog. There are proper places for a person with a service animal to sit and places they can’t sit. You are also dealing with the safety of others. Not just that one person with the service animal. And as a flight attendant myself, if all the passengers started ganging up on me, you better bet I would have them all kicked off. There are guides and regulations when it comes to service animals on a plane. They can’t just walk on and do whatever they want. And if you can’t handle that, then don’t fly with a service animal. There is only so much an airline can do to accommodate everyone since you deal with pleasing a ton of people all at one time.
    That being said, a guide dog does not have to be stowed under the seat. At least on my airline. I do not know the regulations on US Airways. He can be on the floor in front of the passenger and on the floor in the bulkhead. Unlike luggage which HAS to go under a seat or in an overhead ben. So the flight attendant might have been wrong. But like I said, I don’t know, and for sure none of you know the exact regulations when it comes to services animals on this airline. But still, the passengers gained up on her. She had every right to kick them off. She got concerned for her and the rest of the crews safety. I would have done the same thing as well. Become a flight attendant and learn the rules and procedures and experience passengers before you judge and point fingers.

    Reply
    1. Frequent Flyer

      When someone is in the wrong, they don’t get a free pass. That holds for a professions, including airline attendants. A large service dog is not going to fit under any seat on any airline with which I am familiar. If there are seats to accommodate those needing service dogs, then why was he not seated in such section? “Stowed properly” is no way for her to address his service dog. The fact she caused the commotion on the plane gives credence to the passengers’ complaints. To have the passengers becomes so vocal they are kicked off the plane, well, unless they were all drunk, I’d say there might be a problem with this attendant.

      Reply
    2. Jeni Keller

      If she was soooo concerned for her safety she should have realized she was in the wrong and apologized. If she still felt that way SHE should have left that flight.

      Reply
    3. Scott

      Catharine,

      You weren’t there, so how do you know they “ganged up” on the flight attendant. The act of advocating for a blind man and his service dog is not, in and of itself, an act of aggression.

      “And if you can’t handle that, then don’t fly with a service animal.” If you can’t abide the opinions of your paying customers, perhaps a flight attendant career is not for you.

      I don’t mean to be rude, but the tone of your comment makes makes me think even less of airlines and the people who work for them.

      Scott

      Reply
      1. Jean

        Ditto Well said Scott. Alternative, maybe someone in first class could have given up their seat so more room to accommodate the pair? Think this guy needs a great ADA lawyer.

        Reply
      2. Connie

        Scott, You are so right! This person does not need to be in this line of work. It’s hard to work with the public sometimes but when you are dealing with someone with a disability, it should be second nature to be kind, and if you can’t do that then you are in the wrong profession! I drive a city bus and we have cameras all over the bus so that you can see at every angle and you can also hear everything that is said just for incidents that happen and as we all know when something traumatic happens, people tend to see things different ways, so having it on tape can show exactly what and who the problem was. I don’t know if planes have those or not, but it seems that with all of the security issues these days, it would only make sense that they would have these aboard, so that there is no question as to what happened! Personally, I will never fly with this airline again, and I will make sure that everyone I know does not choose to fly with this company as well!!

        Reply
    4. kj

      It would figure that as a flight attendant your self that you would stand up for her.
      However it appears as though she was the one causing the disturbance by causing a scene with the
      dog and asking him to leave. NO PLACE has the right to refuse any service to a person with a service animal.
      I have seen this before. It is nothing new. Clerks at stores think that they can tell a blind person that their service dogs cannot enter the store. Waitresses try to tell them that they cannot enter a restaurant. Flight Attendants thinking that they can kick an entire plane of passengers off a plane for agreeing with the laws.
      I am so glad that the passengers stood up for this man and I really hope that this flight attendant does not have a job by weeks end!!!!!

      Reply
    5. Dawn Hooper

      UMMMMMM if there are places for the people with service dogs to sit why were they not in that seat to start with since when i go to purchase a plane ticket you want to know everything including my bra size so i really do not seeing the airline NOT knowing about this gentlemen and dog flying on there plane. and the air line had an issue or excuse me the flight attend had a problem after an hour on the tarmac and that could not have anything to do with why people were already irritated………..

      Reply
    6. Doggie Lover

      As an ER nurse, I’ve been verbally and physically abused, pissed on, peed on, and puked on. I did not hold it against the patient, and neither should this woman hold her client’s angst against him. It was fine for the passengers to gang up against the terrorists, but don’t let the flight attendant get her mood sideways! Why did she kick them off? Because she embarrassed herself and didn’t want to look at them for over an hour. I wouldn’t either. I have ZERO respect for these airplane babes when their sole purpose is control…and it happens all the time.

      Reply
      1. Rowena Richmond

        Well said Doogie Lover. I too am a nurse and worked as an er tech for 8 years in a level 1 trauma center. Regulations or not, I’m sure there was a better way to handle the situation. Even the least educated people know about service animals. I don’t know why these poor people who depend on their service animals as much we depend on our arms and legs. People need to learn this. I say let that flight attendant walk a mile in that blind man’s shoes.

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        1. Rowena Richmond

          I meant to say, I don’t know why people who depend on their serv
          ice animals like we depend on our arms and legs have to go through situations like this.

          Reply
    7. Colin Heacock

      Well good luck with that. You will soon be out of a job because no one will fly your airline as clearly indicated by the people here. If you can’t come to terms with a decision that is clearly wrong when it is pointed out to you then you are the one who needs to be kicked off the flight. You violate someone’s rights and I will certainly jump to their defence, and when you act in the way you indicate then I make sure I cause a big stink that ruins your day. Later I will lodge a complaint with your superiors so they will know how many customers they will be losing. Your response clearly indicates what one passenger was referring to when he said ‘power trip’. Your job does not give you the right to violate someone’s rights and sense of dignity – both for him and the dog.

      Reply
    8. me

      Don’t try to defend the indefensible. The service dog was accepted as a passenger so the airline and hostess had the obligation to behave professionally.

      Reply
    9. Robert J. Sciolino

      You’re absolutely right Catherine and that is why I have refused to board a plane since 2005. I have had it with TSA rules, with over-the-top, controls, with passenger anxieties, with incredibly bad manners and there is no sense in arguing because its a carbon fiber, aluminum composite tube in which a hundred or more people are locked into with nowhere to go at thirty-five thousand feet.

      When humanity, common decency and culture died…and literally when three plane loads of people became weapons of mass destruction…air travel as we knew it ended for good.

      I’m a much happier, relaxed person now. Enjoy your career Catherine, as a glorified baby sitter and unarmed security person…and air passengers, enjoy “getting there quick”, you sure do pay the price for it.

      Reply
    10. Kat

      If this blind man and his dog needed to sit in a certain seat to fly don’t you think the booking agent should have made sure that was done? And if the other passengers wanted the dog left alone did anyone think to ask them to trade seats if he was assigned the wrong seat. Again, common sense is no longer used in our day to day lives. And a bit of compassion & common sense from the attendants could have prevented this from becoming such an issue.

      Reply
    1. Jacy

      Catharine, shut up! please will you? your just wasting your words your nonsense!!! do you understand whats a service dog???? they are well trained!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i think u better need some training too!

      Reply
  6. Shawnya

    Catharine-I would agree with you about regulations but they were not in the air. People with children walking around a plane while it waits an hour to take off are not being kicked off of flights. The people that spoke up were correct because there is no way I could sit back and watch something that ridiculous take place.

    Reply
  7. Becky

    Catharine what airline do you work for because with that attitude I don’t want to fly with you guys either. They were sticking up for him and doing the right thing not threatening the flight attendants. Have some compassion or find another line of work.

    Reply
  8. Jamie

    Actually Catherine is right. We don’t have the whole story. I would guess that by the passengers reactions that the flight attendant was wrong, however there have to be rules for safety. Just like a human an animal may misbehave and endanger people. Im sure more details will come out.

    Reply
  9. sara

    Catherine must work for the USAirlines and has no understanding as what it is to have a disability like this man does, as neither of the rest of the party involved. Rules and regulations are made to be bent a little, especially for someone like this man. I hope they don’t have to learn the hard way of how important his service dog is to his everyday needs.

    Reply
  10. katie straka

    U.S Airways began as Allegheny Airlines,or more appropriately “Agony Airlines.. Nice to see some things never change. What a crap airline and a really crappy way to treat someone!

    Reply
  11. wynter

    Catherine you are sn idiot with no compassion with other human beings. If the flight attendants had any kind of respect for this man and the other passengers it would have not gone this far.

    Reply
  12. Jeni Keller

    Boycott US Airways! This is ridiculous. Shame on the flight attendant AND the pilot!! I smell a lawsuit, and with great reason!

    Reply
  13. Libby

    Have had problems with their airport staff in the past. The most egregious incident left my 85+ partially disabled mother shaking and in tears. Although she had a ticket, the clerk would not back down. We left, and I scrambled to get her on another flight with different carrier. As far as I am concerned, US Air offers customer disservice.

    Reply
  14. Gloria

    I believe the flight attendant should have been a bit more understanding. They were stranded on the tarmack for an unreasonable amount of time. The dog became restless, as I’m sure some of the passengers were as well. The service animal is an extension of the person with the disability. It was unreasonable for the flight attendant to have his dog “stowed under the seat” as if he was a piece of luggage. Look at the size of the dog!!! For crying out loud – use some common sense. I’m sure she felt “ganged up on” by angry passengers. When she went to the pilot he should have informed her that she was interpreting the rules incorrectly and had her apologize for her actions, then let the dog and the situation alone. Instead, the pilot sided with his crew member and created a bigger problem.

    I’m glad the passengers stood up for this person and his trusty service dog. Tempers were probably flaring due to the delay on the tarmack to begin with. This needs to be considered when looking at the actions of the passengers. It wasn’t their fault. The crew should have handled it differently.

    Reply
  15. Catharine

    I have plenty of compassion for all of my passengers. Which is why I got into this line of work. But I also have compassion for my job and will make sure everything is within regulations and that ALL of my passengers are safe. What each passenger does affects the safety of those around them. It affects every single passenger on the plane. And everything has to be within compliance BEFORE the door is shut and the plane pushes back from the gate. Once you are in the air, the regulations change. And the word stowed goes for EVERYTHING brought on board. It is about where items, luggage and animals(companions and service) are placed. Like I said, become apart of the airline business and learn the rules and regulations before you judge. You don’t know everything about it until you are in the line of work. I thought I did until I went through training. I also said that service animals have different regulations. They can be on the floor at the owners feet or on the floor in the bulkhead. But they still have rules and regulations that cannot be bent. I did have a blind man on one of my flights who was seated in a small row. I moved him into the bulk head where he would have more room for his dog. And he followed all regulations like he should have and we had no problems. Not saying this man didn’t because we don’t know the story. But flying has strict rules for your safety, the other passengers safety and the crews safety.
    And like Jamie said, we don’t know the full story. None of us were there.

    Reply
  16. Psykoduck

    The people paid for a plane ticket, but got a long bus ride instead. Will the airline refund any of the price? Not likely! Something similar happened to me on New Years eve once, after a 2 hour delay they announced the plane had no crew and decided to bus us instead (turning a 45 minute flight into a 2.5 hour bus ride). We booked our tickets weeks in advance, you’d think the airline would line up a crew for the seats they sold. Unfortunately, airlines seem to feel they owe the customers nothing, not even the service paid for. No wonder so many people hate to fly.

    Reply
  17. Karina

    To Catharine: I’m a flight attendant myself and if the story is being told the way it actually happened, then I agree with the pax. This man has a disability and the guide dog has the right to be onboard. You know that no airline ask a guide dog to be ‘stowed’. That’s not the correct word to use and If I was that man I would be looking for a good lawyer and sue the airline and the stewardess for mistreating him and the dog. And I don’t think all the people on board would have stood up for someone unless they feel is absolutely right. She must have been very rude for the to have acted that way. Riots are not allowed on board, of course; but people decided to be on his side and it was for a good reason. Kudos on them. Many flight attendants have lost the human touch these days. I have seen it myself when I travel as a passenger and they have no clue I’m a flight attendant. Keep the perspective here.

    Reply
  18. Laura

    Seeing eye and service dogs lie near the feet of the person they are assisting. They are better behaved than most kids. When he made the reservation they knew he’d have a service animal.. The airlines is dead wrong.. And I hope the flight attended is retrained.. I’m so glad the passengers spoke up

    Reply
  19. Dewie

    Why didn’t they just secure a seatbelt to the dogs harness? Surely that would be enough to stop the dog going very far. A guide dog can’t be stowed in a carrier because firstly they’re usually Labradors and therefore are too big for a carrier and secondly they need to ba able to assist their owner on the plane itself. The whole thing is just disgraceful!!!!

    Reply
  20. Nursece

    The few times I was obligated to fly US Airways I had issues. Now when I organize my travels I avoid US Airways and if possible United as well. They are a joke as airlines/service providers their staff sucks with exeception of ONE pilot that I met once… The rest is trash material.

    Reply
  21. lisa

    I find US Airways very rude so I never fly them………….even though some of their flights are more convenient. Add this to the list of reasons I don’t use them………….

    Reply
  22. dana sadeghi

    U.S. airways statement is a joke. There is no way that half the plan would walk off for a complete stranger and replace a one hour flight for a 3 and a half hour bus ride unless they witnessed something truly wrong. I will never fly us airways. I have an aunt with disabilities and will not tolerate any form of bullying. Thank you to the person who commented with the CEO email address .

    Reply
  23. Samantha Wong

    Rather than focusing on how the airline handled the situation poorly, I am glad to know that so many people stood up for that blind man and his service dog. Two thumbs up to the fellow passengers for giving that man a touch of humanity; I’m slowly restoring my faith in the world.

    Reply
  24. helinda

    If your argument is “we don’t know the whole story”, click the link or search for it. The dog’s paws were in the aisle when they were preparing for take off, after an hour of sitting there. HIS PAWS! He wasn’t restless or causing a security or safety problem. As for the attending, she had already been very rude and demanded that the dog be under the seat. Did you see this dog? Considering how airlines are making the seating areas smaller in order to make more money, as if they need it, there is no way that dog would have fit unless there was a first class seat. The other passengers also confirmed the rudeness of this attending and they had it by the time she kicked him off. How many fight attendants have recently kicked passengers off for petty reasons? Of that amount, how many did not have the backing of the company whether they were wrong or right? Your job is to insure safety and make the flight as pleasant for the passengers as possible, not show your ass because you are pissed off! These airlines won’t go against their employees because if there is a lawsuit, that will be a major factor in the case. They know they have the upper hand! If you won’t fly with them because of their poor customer service, oh well! They have plenty of other customers or eventually you will be forced to fly with them due to no other flight options. I hope they all sue this airline and that dumbass, petty attending!

    Reply
  25. H. Laurin

    I have flown US Air with a Service Dog in training – from Philadelphia (the same origination point as the man in the story) to Los Angeles – and back. And I do know the ADA laws and the FAA regulations as it applies to Service Dogs rather well. I also know how TSA is supposed to handle a Service dog (or Service dog in training).

    My experience flying two long non-stop flights with US Air with a service dog in training was MOSTLY good. Philadelphia’s TSA was awesome and did everything properly. After we settled in for the flight (in the bulkhead seats, which I had requested when I purchased my tickets) and got into the air, one of the flight attendants tried hard to get my dog to break from her down-stay at my feet. The attendant took the demonstration oxygen mask, reached over into our row, dangled the mask up and down above my dog’s head like a toy, trying to entice her to leap up and snatch at the mask. My dog did the correct thing: she checked with me visually for guidance; I gave her a subtle hand signal to stay down; and she stayed down, merely watching the mask being dangled up and down above her head. After a couple of minutes of this, the flight attendant realized that my dog wasn’t going to break protocol and gave up. As soon as the attendant gave up, I quickly rewarded my dog. It could be the flight attendant honestly didn’t realize what they were doing was wrong (interfering with a service dog without cause is a federal offense). I will say that the rest of our outbound flight was fine and the return flight went quite well.

    Let me help correct some misinformation folks provided in the comments above. By Federal Law under the ADA, a Service Dog may go almost anywhere their person goes, with very few exceptions: Operating/Surgical room (sterile environment); in the actual water of a pool or water park that does not allow dogs otherwise (example, a hotel pool; but the dog may sit, stand and walk along the edge of the pool with their person if his person is near the edge; the dog may also stay by his person’s sitting area while his person is in the pool; the kitchen area of a public restaurant when the kitchen area is segregated from the customers; they may also be excluded for safety from certain activities if a business can not provide for the dog safely, such as a roller-coaster ride).

    That said, a Service Dog may otherwise go anywhere his person goes – unless the dog is acting in such a way that is either aggressive, uncontrolled or overtly detrimental to the activity of a place of business through overt actions – such as loudly barking (and not stopping) during a movie, dashing up to patron’s tables at a restaurant, urinating/evacuating in a non-designated area of a business, etc. Most Service Dogs go through extensive training to prevent such incidents, of course, but it is wise to remember that they are not robots nor machines, but animals. The owner should be given the chance to correct the issue.

    In the United States, Service Dogs do NOT have to be trained by an organization; they can be owner-trained to mitigate the effect of a disability, which is not always sight-related by the way. Service Dogs in TRAINING are NOT granted the same rights by Federal Law (which, in my opinion, is an oversight), but SOME states HAVE granted Service Dogs in Training the same rights as a full-fledged Service Dog. Pennsylvania happens to be one of those states.

    The disability can be physical, emotional, intellectual, or any combination. To meet the Federal law, the dog must be trained to respond to at least one need of their person. An individual person may have MORE than one service dog with them. For States that extend the Federal law to Service Dogs in training, the dog merely needs to be generally well-behaved and under the control of the person training the dog.

    In this case, I think US Air’s flight attendant erred. She should have asked for the owner to ask his dog to back up slightly so that his paws were not in the aisle. As far as the dog becoming a projectile in case of problems in air (such as extreme turbulence), the position of the dog’s paws have nothing to do with that. The attendant should have verbally informed the individual and provided assistance IF requested by the person to help position his dog’s paws safely out of the aisle, since the person in this case was blind and could not have seen this for himself. The dogs paws do not belong in the aisle; anyone walking in the aisle could step on the dog’s paws or if the attendant was planning to bring the food service cart down the aisle (since the flight was delayed on the tarmac), they may have been concerned that the cart’s wheels might have hurt the dog. Those are valid concerns, although most service dogs will be smart enough to pull their paws in if a cart is approaching.

    As far as the dog being required to be under the seat, the attendant was flat-out wrong. That is the requirement for NON-service dogs when an airline allows for small dogs to be in the cabin. It does not apply to service dogs, who need to have unfettered movement to perform the tasks for which they have been trained (or are in training for).

    Reply
    1. Kat

      Thank you for the education on the proper rules. Perhaps they need to be emailed to Us Airways CEO & used to train their attendants. I really appreciate the info you provided.

      Reply
  26. Susan Hager

    Suffice to say it will be a cold day in Hell before I buy another ticket for a U.S. Air flight! Despicable treatment of an individual who already has sufficient challenges in life! Proud that passengers were compassionate and courageous enough to risk inconvenience on behalf of a fellow traveler. Something to consider…they are shrinking seats and personal space on airplanes to the extent that someone traveling with a service dog is hard pressed to find room to “stow” him or her….in the name of profits, of course!

    Reply
  27. Kim

    people seriously piss me off when it comes to discriminating against people with disabilities
    a message to US AIRWAYS SHAME ON YOUR STUPIDITY AND YOUR WORTHLESS COMPANY if i were in this mans shoes id s file a law suit big time next time u better be careful because us individuals who fight against the wrongfull discrimination of a person with a disabilities will start whistle blowing you

    stoopid morons

    Reply
  28. Renee

    This is b.s. but they should have seated him and his hero somewhere suitable in the first place. And if your not gonna fly with U.S. Air, I get that part…but ….American Air just merged with them…the biggest airlines ever…so what’s a mother to do…looks like we take a train?

    Reply
  29. Deb Cheek

    To the flight attendant who earlier said that perhaps the man shouldn’t fly with a service animal:
    Not fly? Do you think he should drive to get to his destination? Or, since it was a service animal, maybe the DOG should have done the driving?
    Get real. The flight attendant was 100% in the wrong, and that passenger should sue the airlines for discrimination. And so should every one of the passengers who paid for their tickets, and were also kicked off the plane.
    Add this person to the list of those who will never use US Airways again.
    Deb C

    Reply
  30. Rudy

    US Airways should not only issue this man an appology, then need to give him free 1st class tickets for life. What a crock of crap they dumped on him. This really ticks me off. The lack of common sense and compassion is beyond vile. The flight attendant should be made to wear blacked out goggles so that maybe she could get an appreciation of what being blind it and maybe she could also use a dog so that she can get a clue on what a dog means to someone without their sight.

    Reply
  31. LMR

    I was never a fan of dogs…. I always thought they were such a pain — until recently. We adopted a beautiful dog 1 1/2 years ago and she is my third child. She is loved and she provides love. When my husband travels out of town, I feel totally safe, as I know she will warn me if something is wrong, as she has done this twice now. I cannot imagine anyone speaking about her as a piece of luggage to be “stowed”. USAIRWAYS as well as every airline must make the proper accommodations for our pets, especially an animal that is relied upon for everyday help.

    If USAIR and other airlines think this through, they should do a few things to make amends — and I’m not in Public Affairs, but know about common sense.
    1)Apologize for the inconvenince – remember, other flights were impacted because of the mess they caused
    2) Reimburse all the passengers with a free ticket
    3) Advise the public that ALL crew will be going through training on how to handle these types of situations
    4) Send a gift to the dog
    5) Install a proper safety harness in the bulkhead area for this type of animal. This harness can be stowed in the wall of the bulkhead, so it is hidden from every day use.

    Fairly simple steps that are not expensive and shows the public that they will fix it and not ignore it and sweep it under the rug.

    Time will tell…..

    Reply
  32. Fran C

    SHAMEFUL U.S. Airlines. I hope the stewardess got seriously remanded and the airline does the right thing and says it IS sorry. Kudos to the passengers who stood up against airline personal bullying a PAID passenger and his service dog.

    Reply
  33. Jerry

    That is totally disgusting on the part of U.S. Air. They are on my “No Fly” list from today on. I would suggest that everyone put this on as many public sites that they can….

    Reply
  34. Pingback: Everything You Need to Know About Service Dogs and Airplanes | Orvis News

  35. JRG

    I will never fly U.S. Airways! I will advise EVERYONE I know not to do so either! You train your stewardesses
    to be Nazis! Discriminate against people with disabilities and service animals! You should be sued!
    JRG

    Reply
  36. JRG

    I will never fly U.S. Airways! I will advise EVERYONE I know not to do so either! You train your stewardesses
    to be Nazis! Discriminate against people with disabilities and service animals! You should be sued!
    JRG

    Reply
  37. Lisa

    Service K-9 are trained to be calm and non-disruptive; therefore I would have to assume that this dog had to have been agitated as a result of the way his handler was being harassed. The telling factor is the fact that so many people chose to take a 3 hour bus ride to Long Island, as opposed to a 45 minute flight to demonstrate their support of this man and his service K-9. I will try to book any airline other than US Air in future. Gloria Allred will be on this one I’ll bet!

    Reply
  38. John

    You folks really need to slow down a bit and take a deep breath.

    Couple facts to start with: it was an Express flight, not mainline and the aircraft was a small turboprop – a Dash 8.

    Do you people really think an airline would remove a disabled passenger off of an aircraft without a very good reason? You’re naive if you think that.

    Give this a read. It’s the other side of the story

    US Airways
    Folks – I know there is a lot of heat around the issue of the passenger and his service animal that was removed from one of our express flights recently. One of the first things everyone should ask themselves is, “There certainly must be more to this story than meets the eye … an airline wouldn’t just boot them off a flight for no good reason, right?” Absolutely. US Airways transports more than 80 million customers each year and ensures that all customers, including those with disabilities, are treated with dignity and respect. We’re particularly sensitive to those customers who travel with service animals and we partner with Assistance Dogs International (ADI), an organization that trains and places assistance dogs around the world. US Airways employees volunteer to travel with and work with assistance dogs in training to help them prepare for travel with disabled partners. Over the past 10 years, US Airways employees have participated in transports everywhere from California to Croatia. So we understand the special needs and laws surrounding transporting our disabled customers and their service animals. So we have been investigating what happened here, and that investigation continues. Here are a few things folks should consider: • The safety of every passenger on our aircraft is our first and foremost priority. • To ensure the safety of all passengers, the carriers and FAA have approved cabin policies the ensure that, should an incident occur, everyone can be safely evacuated without aisle-way obstruction. • In compliance with the Air Carriers Access Act, and the FAA, service animals must be either under the seat in front of a passenger, on their lap (if equal to or smaller than a lap child), or at their feet … but at no time can they be in the main aisle of the aircraft as that is a primary evacuation route. In this instance, the animal was not able to be secured out of the main aisle, and attempts to work with the customer failed to ensure compliance with this safety rule. • The customer is an advocate for disability rights, and appears to have forced a confrontation with his disruptive behavior, rather than simply complying with the instruction and securing the dog. Everyone was tired, it was near midnight, and I’m sure patience was in short supply as the aircraft had already been delayed on departure due to a mechanical issue and the animal was restless. We all would be. • Once that was communicated by the cabin crew to the flight deck crew, the decision was made to return to the gate to remove the customer and calm the situation. • Several other passengers, upon seeing the customer’s removal from the flight, piled on to the emotional confrontation, making threats to contact media and make an issue of out ‘kicking a blind man and his dog off a US Airways flight.’ This reduced the FA to tears, and they were unable to continue as they believed their safety was in jeopardy. The captain made the decision to cancel the flight and alternate means of transport were secured to get the passengers to their destination. Again, everyone was tired, it was late, and I’m sure folks simply wanted to get home. As a result, our customers did not get to their destination until after 2 in the morning. So, having said all that, we apologize to the customers of the flight for the inconvenience caused by this incident and will be reaching out to them. I am sure everyone involved wish it had never happened and they had simply gotten to their destination on time. We are also supportive of crews as they do a very difficult job, and in very sensitive emotional circumstances, to guard the safety of all our customers, on every flight, every day. If a crew member ask you to do something, there is a lawful and reasonable reason to comply with the request. That is simple and easy to do. Feel free to ask questions and get clarification, but forcing confrontations or making threats jeopardizes the safety of everyone on board. You can bet that will create a delay and potentially removal from the aircraft. No one wins there. As I said, we continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident, and we welcome any additional information that will enable us to better accommodate our disabled passengers and their service animals. We want to improve our service, and avoiding these kinds of confrontations through education and sensitivity are always the better path. Thanks for taking two minutes to read a bit more about what we believe occurred on this flight. After all, there certainly is more to the story … right? Absolutely. — John McDonald – Spokesman, US Airways

    Reply
  39. Scott

    Don’t forget that US Airways (Useless Airways) is merging with American Airlines and they have had their fair share of issues. So we are going to end up with a BIGGER company with more issues. YEAH for US!! NOT!!!!

    Reply
  40. Abbie

    This is what U.S. Airways has said about the incident:

    Folks – I know there is a lot of heat around the issue of the passenger and his service animal that was removed from one of our express flights recently. One of the first things everyone should ask themselves is, “There certainly must be more to this story than meets the eye … an airline wouldn’t just boot them off a flight for no good reason, right?” Absolutely.

    US Airways transports more than 80 million customers each year and ensures that all customers, including those with disabilities, are treated with dignity and respect. We’re particularly sensitive to those customers who travel with service animals and we partner with Assistance Dogs International (ADI), an organization that trains and places assistance dogs around the world. US Airways employees volunteer to travel with and work with assistance dogs in training to help them prepare for travel with disabled partners. Over the past 10 years, US Airways employees have participated in transports everywhere from California to Croatia. So we understand the special needs and laws surrounding transporting our disabled customers and their service animals. So we have been investigating what happened here, and that investigation continues.

    Here are a few things folks should consider:

    • The safety of every passenger on our aircraft is our first and foremost priority.
    • To ensure the safety of all passengers, the carriers and FAA have approved cabin policies the ensure that, should an incident occur, everyone can be safely evacuated without aisle-way obstruction.
    • In compliance with the Air Carriers Access Act, and the FAA, service animals must be either under the seat in front of a passenger, on their lap (if equal to or smaller than a lap child), or at their feet … but at no time can they be in the main aisle of the aircraft as that is a primary evacuation route. In this instance, the animal was not able to be secured out of the main aisle, and attempts to work with the customer failed to ensure compliance with this safety rule.
    • The customer is an advocate for disability rights, and appears to have forced a confrontation with his disruptive behavior, rather than simply complying with the instruction and securing the dog. Everyone was tired, it was near midnight, and I’m sure patience was in short supply as the aircraft had already been delayed on departure due to a mechanical issue and the animal was restless. We all would be.
    • Once that was communicated by the cabin crew to the flight deck crew, the decision was made to return to the gate to remove the customer and calm the situation.
    • Several other passengers, upon seeing the customer’s removal from the flight, piled on to the emotional confrontation, making threats to contact media and make an issue of out ‘kicking a blind man and his dog off a US Airways flight.’ This reduced the FA to tears, and they were unable to continue as they believed their safety was in jeopardy. The captain made the decision to cancel the flight and alternate means of transport were secured to get the passengers to their destination. Again, everyone was tired, it was late, and I’m sure folks simply wanted to get home. As a result, our customers did not get to their destination until after 2 in the morning.

    So, having said all that, we apologize to the customers of the flight for the inconvenience caused by this incident and will be reaching out to them. I am sure everyone involved wish it had never happened and they had simply gotten to their destination on time.

    We are also supportive of crews as they do a very difficult job, and in very sensitive emotional circumstances, to guard the safety of all our customers, on every flight, every day. If a crew member ask you to do something, there is a lawful and reasonable reason to comply with the request. That is simple and easy to do. Feel free to ask questions and get clarification, but forcing confrontations or making threats jeopardizes the safety of everyone on board. You can bet that will create a delay and potentially removal from the aircraft. No one wins there.

    As I said, we continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident, and we welcome any additional information that will enable us to better accommodate our disabled passengers and their service animals. We want to improve our service, and avoiding these kinds of confrontations through education and sensitivity are always the better path.

    Thanks for taking two minutes to read a bit more about what we believe occurred on this flight. After all, there certainly is more to the story … right? Absolutely.

    — John McDonald – Spokesman, US Airways

    Reply
    1. Linda Eastman

      US Airways is trying to save face. Sorry, I will never fly this second-rate airline again. Kudos to the passengers!

      Reply
  41. Patricia Cox

    Okay attorneys…step up to the plate and one or more of you take this on pro bono for this blind man and his dog. One of you must be willing to stand for what is right!

    Reply
  42. dawn

    Wrong… a select few bellies are heated. And ALL bellies are pressurized. As for the dog…. the airlines keeps making seats smaller.. making under seat areas smaller. A normal Golden can not fit totally under a seat. Only 1/3 of its rear end fits. Then 2/3 of the dog sticks out in the owners leg area causing the owner to either use their dog as a foot stool or cramp your feet to the side. Airlines caused this issue! I know, I am a airline employee (not US Scair ways) and a service dog trainer.

    Reply
    1. kristina kline

      So since you are a airline employee why do you not speak up when there are meetings about such issues as this. If you have, then my apologies. I blame the airlines 100%. First, because the airline attendant should have known the law and the airlines should have made sure this person knew the law before placing them in a position like this. Second, the airlines next in command (pilot) should have made sure this man was treated fairly and with dignity and respect and not put his service dog in any eminent danger. Also by separating the dog and owner puts the owner in danger.

      Reply
  43. dawn

    Most airlines seat the owner and dog in the first row (bulk head) seat. No where is the dog “STOWED” in the bulk head seats. There was no excuse. The man couldn’t really see the total placement of the dog and the dog was probably getting nervous with them trying to cram the dog under the seat. Shame on US AIRWAYS… no wonder you merged. You need some professional people as flight attendance and upper managment.

    Reply
  44. Arleen

    Way to go US Scare!!!
    I will NEVER fly them again. My husband flew them in May 2013. He packed fragile items in his carry-on bag for safe keeping, the agent at the gate DEMANDED that he give her his (allowed, perfectly sized, one piece of) carry-on luggage to be checked and placed in the belly of the plane. When he resisted, explaining what the contents of the bag were, she threatened to make him get on another flight!!! He had a connecting flight that he would have missed if he went on the other flight, so after requesting FRAGILE stickers and being told the airline doesn’t have any and he needed to get on the plane or switch flights, he handed the bag over. When he arrived home that bag was nowhere to be found. It had been put on a plane going to ANOTHER STATE!!! They assured us it would be delivered the next day. The courier showed up while we were out and dropped the bag at our front door. When we arrived home, we began to roll the bag into the house and noticed that the bag was leaving a trail. ALL of the fragile items were smashed!!! The BRAND NEW suitcase looked like it had a baby lion trapped in it…it was SHREDDED!!! US SCARE told us that fragile items should not have been put it the belly…YA THINK!!!!!! It took sending letters to the HOME ADDRESSES of the company President, CEO and assorted others to get monetary compensation for some of the items, but not even a sincere apology!!! They sent us a FREE TRAVEL voucher…it will stay filed away. Between the HELL we were put through AND the disrespect shown to this gentleman and his service dog…THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL I WOULD EVER GIVE THEM MONEY AGAIN!!! There actions toward this man and his dog were disgusting!!! The passengers that attempted to stand up for him did a wonderful thing…it’s a shame the flight attendant couldn’t show the same compassion and common sense.

    Reply
  45. kristina kline

    I have a medic alert service dog and have had issues similar to this as well, but always is settled on the plane before take off. If I am not happy with the outcome I call the airlines customer service once home and often they want to throw free flights at me left and right. I find this an insult to my senses. Simply treat as the way I should have been treated from the start. I say this airline attendant needs to be fired, as well as the pilot for allowing it to happen. Pilot has final say over any issue on board. Pilots have had to interfere on my behalf and I am grateful they did. I think you also need to sue the airlines as well. I am very sorry for this person, we have laws to protect us against people who make illegal decisions like this and I hope the law defends this man and his rights.

    Reply
  46. Lee Wissmiller

    I am a basically 100% disabled veteran with a service animal in Missouri, and I have to say I am terrified of trying to take my well trained service dog onto a plane, due to situations like this. What makes it even worse in my situation is that I have a “hidden” disability, and therefore it is not very obvious just from looking at me. I had an incident in my home town with a restaurant (and the police that responded) and the incident got so much press it seems like everyone in town knows me now. I have so far been able to avoid air travel, but with each episode of a situation like this I am more terrified of utilizing them. How would I (on a fixed income) handle paying for an airline and also manage to keep enough in savings to fix the situation if they kicked me off the plane away from home.

    With that having been said, kudos to the other passengers who stood up for this passenger. It would be great to see the airline either get an ADA complaint, and FAA complaint, or a lawsuit out of this so this sort of treatment stops.

    Reply
  47. Pingback: US Airways Responds to Story of Passenger and Service Dog Who Were Removed from Flight | Orvis News

  48. Beverly Purvis

    Similar situations happened to me twice already. Pretty dumb I may say but somehow I now see it as a risk I have to take when I need to fly with my dog :).

    Reply

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