Albert Rizzi said flight attendants removed him and his dog from the Wednesday flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, N.Y., because the dog became agitated during a delay on the tarmac, KYW-TV, Philadelphia, reported Friday.
"What I'm concerned about is that there are a 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.
Passengers spoke out in support of Rizzi and his dog.
"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.
A US Airways representative confirmed the incident.
"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 representative said. "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 US Airways bussed the passengers to Islip, N.Y."
The representative said an internal investigation is being carried out.
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