U.S. Airways is being forced to answer questions about a legally blind passenger who claims he was kicked off one of the company’s flights because of his guide dog.
A flight attendant reportedly asked passenger Albert Rizzi to keep his guide dog, Doxy, stowed “under the seat,” according to the New York CBS affiliate. After a delay on the tarmac, the flight attendant said they couldn’t take off until the dog was stowed.
[FREE GUIDE: 3 helpful tips for your crisis comms prep]
blind man and his dog just got kicked off @USAirways after we’ve been on the tarmac an hour, bc dog wiggled a bit. Whole plane outraged.
— Sophie B (@sophie_ba) November 14, 2013
Nearly all the recent posts to the U.S. Airways Facebook page are critical of the way the airline handled the incident. Here’s one example.
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 since 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.
In this instance, Mr. Rizzi became disruptive and refused to comply with crew member instructions when the flight attendant asked him to secure his service dog at his feet. As a result of his disruptive behavior, the crew returned to the gate and removed Mr. Rizzi and his service dog from the flight. The flight eventually cancelled and we transported Mr. Rizzi, his service dog, and the rest of our passengers on the flight to ISP by bus.
We apologize to the customers of the flight for the inconvenience. We are continuing to investigate the incident.