A blind woman and her husband were ordered off an American Airlines flight and deemed a “safety” threat after an incident involving seat changes.
Sue Martin travels with her service dog, Quan. He’s a big fella. 75lb to be exact. Asking him to sit at her feet is rather difficult on a full flight in economy class.
The story goes like this—Martin boards her flight from Washington to Dallas and sees that her seat assignment will not accommodate her plus Quan. She asks to move, stating—
There was not enough room for a 75-pound dog and three adult humans
“Several requests” were made to change seats. No one would. Then she was asked to step off the flight, advised she was a safety threat, and forced to rebook a “flight with a completely different airline at a different airport”. She maintains that there was no “altercation” between her and any of the flight attendants.
I wish I had done the interview. I have several questions—
- Did you consult the gate agents or FAs first? What did they say?
- Which seats were you assigned? What were you looking to get?
- What did you say to the passengers next to you?
My hunch is that she and her husband had an aisle and middle seat. I’m assuming the flight was not totally full, but only middles were left. She asked the window passenger to move to another seat, but the passenger refused. Why? There were only middle seats. So perhaps she started asking loudly around her if someone could help, maybe even raising her voice. Let’s face it – two economy seats on American Airlines are not enough for two adults and a large dog.
Perhaps someone with expertise on the ADA or service animal regulations will chime in, but it strikes me as a fine line between reasonable accommodation and a free seat on every flight.
American Airlines is investigating—
We take all disability complaints very seriously, and are thoroughly investigating these allegations.
Disability complaints should be taken seriously and every passenger should be afforded dignity. I do wonder how large is too large for service animals.