Franklin, Me. — A blind woman and her service dog were kicked off an American Airlines flight after requesting a seating change.
“It was really the most humiliating, traumatic experience I’ve ever had.”
Sue Martin was boarding an American Airlines flight leaving from Reagan National Airport when she noticed her seat didn’t provide enough space for her service dog. She said she asked a crew member if she could be re-seated and they told her no, so she asked another crew member.
“I said ‘Excuse me, can you help me?’ And the man said ‘Yes, what do you want?’ And I said ‘The bulkhead row does not have adequate space for my dog. Can I be re-seated in a regular row?’ ‘Nope. It’s against the rules.'”
Federal flight regulations state “individuals with disabilities cannot be required to sit in a particular seat or be excluded from any seat except as provided by government safety rules.
“How can they get away with this? I know the law. I know how to advocate for my needs and my rights as a disabled passenger.”
Martin said a man in first class offered up his seat, but a flight supervisor then approached her saying she had to leave, stating the crew felt it was unsafe for them to fly with her on board.
“I was just flabbergasted. In almost 32 years of flying with my dogs, I’ve never had anything like this happen before.”
Martin got off the plane with her dog and her husband and was rebooked on a United Airlines flight at a different airport. The couple had to pay $80 in cab fair to get there.
She has since filed complaints with American Airlines and the Department of Transportation regarding the incident.
The airline got in touch with her saying they would look into the matter, but she hasn’t heard much since.
“No acknowledgement, no we’ll be happy to reimburse you, nothing. Absolutely nothing. They’ve gone silent.”
American Airlines released a public statement on the matter saying, “We apologize to Ms. Martin for the recent experience she had on American Airlines. We take these allegations very seriously, and are thoroughly investigating. We are also in contact with Ms. Martin to gather additional details of what transpired during her recent journey with us. Service animals are welcome on all of our flights.”
Martin said she wants only three simple things.
“I want an apology from American Airlines. I want substantive assurance that they will train their personnel, their crews to not treat passengers rudely, arrogantly, and not to lie to their customers. And I want my 80 dollars back. It’s not complicated.”