US Airways is responding to intense social media backlash after removing a blind passenger and his service dog from a flight.
People have mixed feelings about airlines, so when a blind passenger and his service dog were kicked off their US Airways flight, people paid attention.
It all stems from an incident on board flight 4384 from Philadelphia to Long Island when, after a long delay, Albert Rizzi’s service dog Doxy became restless.
US Airways’ rules are that service dogs must sit on the floor at the passenger’s feet. In this case the airline wanted to force the service dog to sit in front of another passenger.
After an hour delay, the dog was restless and moved to the aisle. That’s when trouble started.
A flight attendant complained and other passengers came to the aid of the blind man and tried to make the dog sit where it was supposed to.
The flight could not depart until the dog was safely under the seat. When Rizzi complained, the plane taxied back to the terminal and he was removed by US Airway along with this dog.
This sparked outrage from other passengers who stood in solidarity with the blind man and his dog, so US Airways decided to cancel the flight, after many walked off the plane.
Now, after receiving heavy criticism on their Facebook page, the airline is responding. On November 15, spokesperson John McDonald posted a statement trying to calm outraged customers:
“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.”
Passengers mutiny over blind man and his service dog's treatment on flight http://t.co/3IJEuLeWKj
— HuffPost Green (@HuffPostGreen) November 15, 2013
The statement goes on to explain how US Airways transports millions of passengers safely to their destination every year and list the safety rules the airline must follow.
“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.”
The US Airways statement adds that flight crews work under very difficult circumstances and the emotional nature of this situation played part and they will keep investigating what exactly led to this incident.
Looking at the posts left by users on subsequent posts, US Airways continues to receive negative comments about the incident on completely unrelated posts on their page. This controversy is not going away.
What do you think of US Airways kicking off the blind man and his dog from their flight? Is their response sufficient?