American Airlines Apologizes to Blind Passenger Removed From Flight Over Guide Dog
A blind passenger taking an American Airlines flight with her guide dog earlier this month says she was asked to leave the plane after experiencing difficulties getting a new seat for her companion.
Sue Martin, who was traveling with her husband and guide dog, Quan, was booked for a connecting flight from Washington, D.C. to Dallas-Fort Worth.
When she boarded, Martin asked a flight attendant if she could move to another seat, because her 75-pound guide dog couldn’t fit into the seat she was originally assigned, according to the Dallas Morning News.
She was told by a ticketing agent that she would not be able to change her seat, and was refused an upgrade to first class as the agent told her airline regulations prohibit service dogs from the cabin, according to the Portland Press Herald.
When Martin reboarded the flight, she told the publication that a man in first class offered his seat, before airline staff told Martin that she would need to remove herself from the flight.
Martin said in an interview with WCSH 6 that it was the pilot of the flight who approached her, stating that she and the dog were a threat to aviation security, though she said she’s never encountered issues when traveling with Quan in the past.
“We apologize to Ms. Martin for the recent experience she had on American Airlines; we take these allegations very seriously, and are thoroughly investigating,” American Airlines said in a statement to Travel + Leisure. “We are also in contact with Ms. Martin to gather additional details of what transpired during her recent journey with us."
There are concerns that the act may have been a violation of the federal Air Carrier Access Act, which prohibits the discrimination of people traveling with disabilities in such cases.
The airline’s rules for service animals state they must fit on your lap, at your feet, or under your seat and have an animal ID card to qualify.
The airline told T+L that service dogs are welcomed on all of their flights.