Canine Rights

Blind Woman, Service Dog Kicked Off American Airlines Flight

Sue Martin of Franklin, Maine is blind and depends on her service dog, Quan to navigate through life. While traveling to San Diego on American Airlines, Martin and her service dog were called “a danger to the safety of the flight” by the pilot of the aircraft and were booted from the plane.

The long trip from Maine to San Diego involved several layovers and plane changes. Martin says all of the flights went smoothly until the connection from Washington D.C. to Dallas.

When Martin, her husband, and Quan boarded the plane in D.C., they quickly realized that the seat they’d been assigned would not accommodate three adults and a 75-pound dog. So, naturally, Martin requested a seat change.

After making several seat change requests that were ignored, Martin, her husband, and Quan were asked to deboard the plane.

“The man said, ‘You have to leave the plane.’ I asked him why and he said the crew had decided I was a danger to the flight,” Martin told WCSH. “I’ve never had anything happen like this before.” Martin said there was no altercation between her and the flight attendants and that she couldn’t understand why it escalated the way it did.

“I stood up, reached for Quan’s harness and almost began to cry. This is just so far out of the realm of anything I have ever experienced in all my years of travel,” Martin said. “I felt helpless, I felt afraid, I was terrified.”

Stuck in Washington D.C., American Airlines paid for Martin, her husband, and Quan to travel, instead, on a United Airlines flight, but the travelers were forced to pay $80 out-of-pocket to travel from Reagan National to Washington Dulles in order to catch their United flight.

Martin filed complaints with the airline who says they are investigating the matter and “take all disability complaints very seriously.”

“Some reassurance that American will better train its personnel is the only way I will feel comfortable getting on another American Airlines flight,” Martin said. “I mean, if they can kick a blind person off a plane whose dog is perfectly behaved, what can they do next? I don’t know.”

Martin will be traveling for work the first week in May and must use the American Airlines contract carrier out of Bangor.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Roe Castagna

    Mar 17, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I don't fly American Airlines.. This validates why. So sad they had to deal with such arrogance.

  2. Janan Martin

    Mar 15, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Last year I was on a first class flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Dallas on American Airlines. I 19ish y/o woman boarded with a large breed puppy, her obviously very wealthy mother, and her boyfriend. The flight attendant asked the woman about the pup. The woman said, "This is my service dog." The attendant asked, "May I ask your handicap?" The woman answered, "I'm blind." Everyone within hearing distance was shocked and disgusted with the woman. American let her fly with the puppy.

  3. Cathy Mccormick

    Mar 15, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    This is beyond disgraceful. In this day and age, everyone should be well aware of the ADA and what is allowed and not allowed. Kicking a blind woman and her guide dog off an airlines flight is not only illegal, but incredibly stupid! The pilot should be fired! His IQ is well below the acceptable level to be in command of an aircraft! I hope this woman sues the shit out of American Airlines!!!

  4. Della Williamson

    Mar 14, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    This is terribly sad. And happens all to often. The ADA was put in place to help prevent this sort of thing yet it keeps on happening. Not as often. But still should not be. There is little compassion for others in the world today. In 2015 a Mom asked for something hot for her Autistic daughter to help keep the girl calm during their take off. They were escorted off the plane by police because the pilot felt uncomfortable flying with her. And more. Anyone different. Elderly, fat, handicapped. All are treated with disrespect. Too many are more interested in being politically correct than having any common sense or decency

    • Constance

      Mar 15, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Not sure how you get to "Too many are more interested in being politically correct tHan having any common sense or decency." There is nothing "politically correct" about kicking a blind woman off a plain for asking for a seat change. Political correctness usually involves walking on eggshells to avoid offending anyone. I'd say this case is pretty far from that.

  5. Donna Alexander

    Mar 14, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I am so sorry you were treated so horribly. The good thing is you put this out there for everyone to see, I am sure that many others, myself included, have upcoming trips. This information will allow others to go to an airline that will help disabled people reach their destinations with dignity and respect. Shame on them.

  6. Mirian ,Hasani

    Mar 14, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Morons!!!! American Airlines need better training!!!

  7. Rebecca

    Mar 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I don't care for American Airlines either. My last flight with them was horrible and I will go out of my way to never have to fly American. I was flying with an extremely high fever and the crew was downright rude and inconsiderate.

    • Ben Young

      Mar 15, 2017 at 11:31 am

      And you, with an infection resulting in a "high fever", thought it was "considerate" to subject a planeload of unsuspecting people to your disease? Really? WOW !

      • Nina

        Mar 18, 2017 at 11:40 am

        Thanks Ben for writing what I was thinking! Flying while that sick is bad for everyone, and flight attendants get sick on average about 5 times more often because of being exposed to so many people who travel when they should be home getting well and not exposing others to their grunge. Also, flight crew aren't on the plane to nurse very ill people, they are required to be on board for safety,

        I am in a unique position to comment on this article because I used to be a flight attendant and I now have a condition that is helped by having a 70 lb service dog.

        I fly regularly with my service dog, and because I have bad allergies to dogs my service dog is a golden doodle which is referred to as a hypo-allergenic breed. My dog looks like a muppet, so I get a lot of attention with her… most of which is kind and caring. In all of my 8 years traveling on average of 1 time a month, I've not ever been treated badly by a flight crew. Some are nicer and more attentive and others are just not that interested… they see lots of people everyday., and they just do their job.

        I'm stunned that there was no possible solution to this person's seating situation other than to remove the person and her service dog from the plane. I have had some airline employees go out of their way to be sure that I'm in the best seat on the particular plane to accommodate myself and my 70 lb companion.

        As a former flight attendant I understand that sometimes it isn't possible to move someone into a better seat. The seats that offer more room cost more and are paid for by the passengers seated in them and it isn't fair to move them.

        I am sorry for the woman and her dog that they were removed from the flight… I can say that I empathize with the woman and her companion, and that sometimes you can request a better seat for you and your dog but it isn't always possible. I have flown on flights where I've been in a middle seat (only option available) with my dog having to curl up in a ball for a 4 hour flight… it sucked but we all made it and life goes on.

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