Albert Rizzi boarded the plane and settled his Labrador service dog, Doxy, under the seat in front of him. This is a required by airlines. The flight was delayed on the tarmac for over an hour. Rizzi’s service dog became uncomfortable and curled up under his legs on the floor. The flight attendant insisted that the dog be returned to the space under the sea, adding that if this did not happen the plane would return to the terminal.
Rizzitold ABC News,”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.”
Two other passengers offered to help him and allowed the service dog to curl up under the seat in front of them.
Passenger Frank Ohlhorst explained to “When we, the passengers, realized what was going on, we were, like, ‘Why is this happening? He’s not a problem. What is going on?’” said 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.”
US Airways says Rizzi became verbally abusive, and that other passengers became argumentative, sparking safety concerns. Surrounding passengers disagreed. US Airways is investigating the incident
The flight was eventually cancelled and passengers were offered to transport by bus to Islip, New York.Rizziand a number of others accepted.
Rizzi says he is humbled by this show of support, “These people, all of them, got on a bus and drove 3 and a half hour from Philadelphia,” he said. “They could have stayed on the plane, but they chose not to. I’m so humbled.”
US Airways released the following statement :
US Airways transports more than 80 million customers each year and ensures that all customers, including those with disabilities, are treated with dignity and respect. We’re particularly sensitive to those customers who travel with service animals since we partner with Assistance Dogs International (ADI), an organization that trains and places assistance dogs around the world. US Airways employees volunteer to travel with and work with assistance dogs in training to help them prepare for travel with disabled partners. Over the past 10 years, US Airways employees have participated in transports everywhere from California to Croatia.
In this instance, Mr. Rizzi became disruptive and refused to comply with crew member instructions when the flight attendant asked him to secure his service dog at his feet. As a result of his disruptive behavior, the crew returned to the gate and removed Mr. Rizzi and his service dog from the flight. The flight eventually cancelled and we transported Mr. Rizzi, his service dog, and the rest of our passengers on the flight to ISP by bus.
We apologize to the customers of the flight for the inconvenience. We are continuing to investigate the incident.
Source: ABC News