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American Airlines Under Fire for Locking Support Dog in Bathroom

American Airlines Under Fire for Locking Support Dog in Bathroom
Jeff Edwards

An American Airlines passenger is suing the carrier in federal court over allegations that both she and her emotional support animal were abused by a cabin crew member. According to court filings, the episode left the passenger a “nervous wreck” and the companion animal “traumatized.”

An American Airlines passenger is looking for a big payday after filing a lawsuit accusing the airline of mistreating her and abusing her emotional support companion animal. According to the claim filed in a Miami federal court, a flight attendant caused untold emotional damage to passenger Avigail Diveroli and her emotional support dog Simba.

Attorneys for Diveroli say that even though their client followed all of the rules and correct procedures for bringing a companion animal in the business class cabin of her Miami International Airport (MIA) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)-bound flight, she was met with verbal abuse and an involuntary downgrade to the economy cabin. Later, her dog was battered and eventually locked in a lavatory. Diveroli says she received confirmation that both she and her authorized support animal were set to travel as the flight approached, but a flight attendant named Regina apparently had a much different interpretation of the rules.

“At a certain point, Regina, a flight attendant for AA, notices Simba and screams loudly that the dog is not allowed in the cabin and that it’s an FAA violation,” the lawsuit asserts in compelling play-by-play fashion. “Regina told Plaintiff that she is filing an FAA complaint. Regina yelled at Plaintiff and her husband the whole trip, even stating so much that the dog is not allowed to be wrapped with an AA blanket. After more yelling and abusive behavior, Regina takes a picture of the kennel, as well as of Plaintiff, which was without Plaintiff’s consent.”

Even though the dog was well-behaved and under her control at all times, Diveroli claims that, later in the flight, she was forced to move to an economy class seat and her dog was locked in a lavatory after the flight attendant repeatedly slammed the bathroom door on the kennel while Simba was inside. Diveroli, who was pregnant at the time of the alleged incident, says that after she raised objections to the animal being mistreated, the flight attendant retaliated by having police escort her from the aircraft upon arrival.

Diveroli, who was traveling with her husband and her 87-year-old grandfather, says that although police did not arrest her, the flight attendant’s abuse of power was both humiliating and traumatic for her and her travel companions. She also noted that other crew members and airline officials repeatedly apologized for Regina’s behavior, referring to her as a “sour apple.”

Noting that American Airlines “completely ignored the mental anguish of passenger, ignored their own carrier agreement with passengers and violated every standard of decency,” Diveroli is seeking unspecified damages in excess of $75,000 for “removing the dog from her possession, stuffing it into a bathroom and causing severe trauma.” The suit further claims that the dog was also “traumatized by the events.”

For FlyerTalkers, there are few situations as untenable as being forced to side with either a power-tripping flight attendant or a DYKWIA passenger with an emotional support animal. Is there any room for middle ground here? Is it possible everyone involved is equally in the wrong? A verdict is being deliberated in the American Airlines AAdvantage forums now.


[Image: Court Documents]

View Comments (11)


  1. chavala

    August 12, 2019 at 10:04 am

    There is definitely something missing from this story!

  2. zgscl

    August 12, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    The other side of this story probably has a very different perspective. Would love to hear from a bystander on this flight, but there has to be more…

  3. Flight44

    August 12, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Pffft. Another day, another support animal story. If a person needs a support animal, they should not be aboard the aircraft.

  4. Boggie Dog

    August 12, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Just $75,000? Go for a couple of mil and settle for less.

  5. The_Bouncer

    August 12, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    The sooner we accept that airplanes are for people, the better.

  6. baroqen

    August 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    In this day and age, if something as extreme as this really happened, someone would have taken a video of it. Was there honestly not a single animal lover (or just random person looking for the next viral video) around to take a video of a FA terrorising a dog on a flight?

    While I wouldn’t put it past American Airlines in general, I gotta call BS on this one.

  7. Dr.Ells

    August 12, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    I have severe allergies. I am human, and I am allowed to fly. Dogs and cats belong in the cargo hold. (I do, however, believe that Seeing Eye dogs should be allowed in the cabin. I am always more than happy to be re-seated from business-first to the very last row, in that situation!.)

  8. AAMillionaire

    August 12, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    “Stuffing” the dog in the lav. Hmmm. Exaggerate much? Yea, I know the lavs have gotten smaller, but if the dog needed to be stuffed into a lav, that dog is too big to be on a plane.

  9. Lakeviewsteve

    August 13, 2019 at 6:17 am

    There are way way too many sour apples at AA these days. My sister has ALS and is wheel chair bound. AA in Miami pushed her chair and made her face a wall and then forgot all about her.

  10. TheBarron

    August 17, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Airlines need to end all this nonsense & just ban all animals inside the passenger cabin. If people can’t fly sans animal then use a different mode of transportation. Better yet, rent an executive jet for the trip & the pooch can do whatever it wishes inside.

  11. chadbag

    August 27, 2019 at 8:55 am

    The question is not whether emotional support animals should be allowed to fly. That is a different question for another day. Since they are NOW allowed to fly, under certain circumstances, the question is, did the passenger fulfill the requirements the airline set forth, and did the airline (through its representatives including the FA) follow the procedures set forth in any policy.

    I too think that “emotional support animals” are a stupid cop-out, but that is not the question here.

    The question, as I outlined above, is did the passenger follow the requirements and rules, did the airline approve of everything and say they were set, and did the airline follow through with its own policy.

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