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Blind Passenger Says She Was Ejected From AA Flight Over Guide Dog

An American Airlines passenger claims that she was removed from a flight after a crew member refused to accommodate her canine helper.

A passenger on an American Airlines flight from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) says that she was booted from her flight because the crew was unwilling to accommodate her seeing-eye dog. Sue Martin says that an airline employee told her that “her presence on the plane was not safe.”

According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Martin, her husband and her canine helper named Quan were kicked off the flight after switching seats with another passenger prior to takeoff. Martin told the wire service that she had first asked a flight attendant if she could relocate to a seat in the front of the aircraft with more room for her German shepherd travel companion. After the request to relocate was denied outright, Martin says a first class passenger generously offered to swap seats with her. It was at this point that the blind passenger, her husband and the canine assistant were reportedly ejected from the plane.

An American Airlines spokesperson would only tell reporters that “the airline is investigating the allegations.”

Federal LawUS Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations and American Airlines’ own published policies call for crews to make reasonable accommodations for passengers with disabilities. The incident in question, however, is somewhat complicated by Martin’s own account of the alleged ordeal. According to her public statements about the exchange, it appears that she was not only requesting an upgrade to the first class cabin, but also may have ignored a crew member’s explicit instructions in taking it upon herself to swap seats with the good samaritan in the first class cabin.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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FlyingNone March 17, 2017

(headline)....."ejected" ??.....did she have a parachute ?

payam81 March 16, 2017

A lot of people have jumped to scold AA and the crew member(s) involved including the comment that talks about the law and the lack of understanding etc. which is quite interesting as the report isn't exactly very exhaustive on what really transpired (as is the usual in this kind of cases) yet posters are coming up with all kinds of reasons as to why AA and flight crew are evil. From my reading of this story it appears one way to interpret the story is that the pax was requesting to move up to F from Y? IF that is the case, it's absolutely reasonable that AA denies that request! While I sympathies with this woman and her disability, can't imagine how life would be without the gift of sight, that is not a cart blanche for everything. Does the guide dog really require an F seat to travel?!

Renaldo March 16, 2017

Disregarding instructions regarding a voluntary seat change? Seriously the cabin crew take their authority to a whole different level sometimes. Safety _ i agree with anything they say, but voluntary seat change?

N1120A March 16, 2017

The lack of understanding of the law on this issue, in this blog, is unsurprising, but also disconcerting where people are making such assertive statements. From what it sounds like, the following happened: 1) The passenger wasn't given a suitable seat to accommodate for her service animal (a bulkhead, or, maybe, a MCE or a row with a blocked middle) . 2) The passenger asked to be switched to such a suitable seat, which the flight attendant wrongfully denied. In this case, the desire of the airline to charge for seats in the same cabin or cater to their elite members, over a person needing an accommodation, was unreasonable. It would behoove AA to write this into their PSS for seating selection, as service animals are booked ahead of time. 3) A passenger in first class volunteered their seat. There is no indication that the passenger in question solicited the seat. In that situation, the accommodation was reasonable, because the person was volunteering their position and the flight crew now had suitable seats to work with. Again here, accommodating a disabled passenger trumps upgrading another elite to the seat. AA is fully in the wrong here, thanks to the behavior of their crew.

flyerCO March 16, 2017

Doesn't matter if she asked or not. All we know is a passenger volunteered. This could be because they heard the conversation. I highly doubt she went to FC and started asking people to swap to coach. The passenger in FC was entitled to give his seat up to another passenger, even one in coach. I do agree however that the headline is misleading. This wasn't a removal simply because of dog.