Friday, November 15, 2013

Fellow passenger's leave aircraft in protest as Captain offloads blind traveller with guide dog

Dear Colleagues,

An interesting article from & on an unusual solidarity shown by fellow passengers agaisnt the highhandedness of the Aircraft Captain to offload a blind passengers travelling with a guide dog in USA. In the end, the aircraft did not fly as all the passengers walked out in protest and refused to fly unless the Blind traveller with his seeing dog was taken in. The passengers were then driven to their destination by a bus. Incident is being investigated.

By Travis Gettys
Thursday, November 14, 2013 13:53 EST

Airline passengers rallied around a blind man Wednesday night after he and his guide dog were removed from the plane.

Albert Rizzi and his seeing eye dog tried to board a US Airways express flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Long Island, but passengers said flight attendants would not allow him to bring the animal onto the plane unless it could travel under a seat.

The flight was delayed for about an hour and a half on the tarmac, and the dog became restless, and other passengers said a flight attendant ordered Rizzi and his guide dog off the plane.

“The lady comes back and gets very insistent, and I said, ‘Look, I don’t understand what you want me to do,’” Rizzi said. “’He’s as best as he can, he’s where he needs to be,’ and I hear nobody else moving, and as I’m walking to the front, I’m like, wait a second, why am I the only one getting off?”

The rest of the passengers banded together and said they refused to fly unless the man and his dog were permitted back onto the plane.

“Blind man and his dog just got kicked off @USAirways after we’ve been on the tarmac an hour, bc dog wiggled a bit. Whole plane outraged,” one passenger tweeted from the flight.

Another passenger said the flight attendant gave Rizzi about one minute to calm his dog before removing him.

“He tried to do whatever he could, and she went back to the front of the plane,” the passenger said. “We were taxiing like we were going to take off, and at that point in time, we’re about to take off, and all the sudden the captain gets on the PA and says we have to head back to the terminal … We were all kind of raised our voices and said this is a real problem. So the captain winds up coming out of the cockpit, and he basically asked us all to leave the aircraft.”

US Airways officials say Rizzi was verbally abusive to the flight attendant and that crew safety was a factor in removing the blind man and his dog from the plane.

The other passengers were boarded onto a bus and driven to Long Island, where they arrived about 2:30 a.m. The airline is investigating the incident.

November 14, 2013 9:58 AM

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An investigation is underway after a blind man says he was thrown off a plane in Philadelphia along with his service dog.

Albert Rizzi and his seeing eye dog were on a US Airways express flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Long Island Wednesday night.

Passengers claim the airline would not allow Rizzi to bring his dog on the plane, unless it could travel under the seat.
After a delay on the tarmac, the dog apparently became agitated, and that is when passengers claim a flight attendant kicked Rizzi and the dog off the plane.

“What I’m concerned about is that there are tremendous number of individuals in the disabled community who might not have the stamina, the strength, the confidence to stand up for their rights and speak out against these types of ridiculous perceived rules,” Rizzi said.

The incident triggered an unusual show of solidarity from other airline passengers. One passenger Tweeted: “blind man and his dog just got kicked off @USAirways after we’ve been on the tarmac an hour, bc dog wiggled a bit. Whole plane outraged.”

For its part, a spokesperson for US Airways released a statement that confirmed that “on flight 4384 from Philadelphia to Islip, Long Island a customer with a seeing eye dog was asked to keep his dog near his feet when the dog was walking up and down the aisle. The protocol for service animals is to keep them at foot of the passenger, or under the seat, as they are considered extensions of the passenger. When a flight attendant asked the passenger to keep the dog where it needed to stay for safety reasons the passenger got verbally abusive. A decision was made to return to the gate to take the passenger and the dog off the plane. At that point, other customers were unhappy about the situation. The crew did not feel comfortable operating the plane so a decision was made to cancel the flight and U S Airways bussed the passengers to Islip NY.”

The spokesperson confirmed that an internal investigation is underway.

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