Passengers Protest When Blind Man and Service Dog Removed from Plane

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doxyPassengers aboard a US Airways flight became outraged Wednesday night when the crew removed a blind man and his service dog. The flight eventually had to be cancelled.

Albert Rizzi is legally blind and was flying on flight 4384 from Philadelphia to Islip, Long Island with his service dog Doxy. Rizzi and Doxy have flown many times before and never had any issues, but things were different on this flight. A flight attendant told Rizzi that Doxy would need to be kept under the seat in front of him or the plane would have to turn around. The seat Rizzi was in didn’t allow for that though.

“I said to her, ‘I really don’t understand what the issue is. I can’t do anything. She was expecting me to put my dog in other people’s space. They were paying good money for those seats. It was kind of odd,” Rizzi said.

Two other passengers offered to let Doxy stay under the seats in front of them. When the plane sat on the tarmac for close to two hours Doxy moved into the aisle. The flight attendant once again confronted Rizzi and according to US Airways Rizzi became verbally abusive.

The crew made the decision to remove Rizzi and Doxy. As other passengers aboard the plane realized what was happening they became outraged at the crew and rallied behind Rizzi.

“When we, the passengers, realize 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.”

Once the flight was cancelled US Airways offered to transport passengers by bus from Philadelphia to Islip, New York. Rizzi, along with many other passengers accepted the offer. Rizzi was moved by the support he received from his fellow passengers.

“When I heard those people coming off the plane saying what they said, I felt like a million dollars and more humble than I have ever felt in my entire life,” said Rizzi.

US Airways is continuing to investigate the incident and reviewing how the situation was handled.

15 thoughts on “Passengers Protest When Blind Man and Service Dog Removed from Plane”

    • I think this issue need to be treated on a very serious note, the crew was really not fair. nobody can ever separate a bond between men and dogs, a dog will always be a men’s best friend. be it in a plane or bus.

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  1. How is a full sized lab suppose to fit under an airplane seat? It’s a dog, a living creature…not a purse.
    BTW, this whole fitting the service dog under the seat thing happens all the time.

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  2. People are getting stupider and stupider! I agree how is a grown lab going to fit under a seat anyway- why can’t people walk around him in the aisle> where are they going on a moving plane anyway? This simply a power trip- if someone thinks they have the authority to make you jump through hoops they want you to jump and ask now high on the way up.

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    • Nothing can be in the isle or around your feet because it/he/she will be in the way during egress in case of an accident.

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  3. Its way beyond the time that airlines should go back to basics and remember that they are transporting people and not cargo. A service dog is allowed to accompany their owners wherever they go … airlines … wise up!

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      • This statement is not true. You do not need to purchase a seat for a service dog. A service dog is, although a living animal, an assistive tool (according to ADA laws) such as a wheelchair or cane that is utilized by their handler to help them perform in their daily lives more independently. To parallel the law, to purchase a seat for a service dog would be the same as charging an individual for the walker they needed to assist them to board the airplane.

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  4. Shame on you US Airways…maybe you should take the word of your customers over the untrained, insensitive BITC**S you call flight attendants. I hope you lose all of your business and go Bankrupt. You deserve nothing less! I hate this airline with a passion….DO NOT FLY US AIRWAYS! I’ve never had a good experience with them…MOST INCOMPETENT PEOPLE ON EARTH!

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  5. A full size lab moved after 2 hours sitting..repeat 2 hours.. Under a seat in a plane that wasn’t moving and the dog was kicked off? Shame on this flights crew. Last time I flew I didn’t have to store my bags til we were moving out to the run way. Why couldn’t the dog lay comfortable in three aisle while waiting.

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  6. So much depends on which airline is being used. We normally fly United or Alaska. They always give my daughter’s service dog a bulkhead seat so he can have more room. (He’s a small 40 lb. standard poodle.) There’s no getting under a seat in the bulkhead. Last month she was sitting in a bulkhead seat and there was an airline captain dead heading in the aisle seat with the middle seat empty. He insisted that the dog sleep on the middle seat. (the dog is non allergenic) She was shocked but he insisted and that’s where the dog slept most of the time. He’s a young dog and the first time he was going to fly (from Anchorage) Alaska Airlines gave my daughter, her dog, and their trainer an empty plane to practice on so he would be familiar with his surroundings on his first flight. This policy is something new they are offering to people with service dogs. U.S. Airways definitely violated the ADA regulations for this man.

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