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Passengers Rally Around Blind Man and Service Dog Kicked Off US Airways Flight

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When legally blind, Albert Rizzi boarded a U.S. Airways Express flight from Philadelphia to Long Island last night, he placed his service dog under the seat in front of him, as required by the airline. But, after passengers were forced to wait over an hour on the tarmac, Rizzi says his dog became restless and uncomfortable. Instead of staying beneath the seat, the dog curled up beneath his owner’s legs on the floor of the plane.

That’s when a flight attendant informed Rizzi that the dog would need to be placed back under the seat, or the plane would be turned around and returned to the terminal.

U.S. Airways says that’s when Rizzi and several other passengers on board became argumentative, forcing the plane to de-board.

Passenger Frank Ohlhorst explained to ABC News,

“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.”

Because of the dog and unrest among passengers, the flight was cancelled.

While some passengers made other flight arrangements, many on board, in a show of support for Rizzi and his service dog, all boarded a bus for the 3 and a half-hour commute.

“These people, all of them, got on a bus and drove 3 and a half hours from Philadelphia,” Rizzi said. “They could have stayed on the plane, but they chose not to. I’m so humbled.”

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60 Comments

60 Comments

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  2. Avatar Of Robert E Luquer

    Robert E Luquer

    says:

    Personally U S Airways is beyond a doubt dumber than dumb. The captain had the right to allow the man to fly simply by making a few changes that would not have bothered anyone of the passengers but he choose to behave like the company idiot and opted out instead for asshole of the year award. END OF STORY AND US AIRWAYS GETS THR “BOO BIRD AWARD OF 2014.

  3. Avatar Of Richard

    Richard

    says:

    If all these passengers want to argue and scream then there is no order and the pilot has no choice but to cancel the flight. Your witnessing lawlessness on the plane so the passengers got what they wanted no flight. Any airline would do the same thing . I,m sure this may be not what people want to hear

  4. Avatar Of Bridgette Acker

    Bridgette Acker

    says:

    US Airways sucks at everything, everytime I have flown with them. They are rotten and I would be ashamed to work for this airline. Smh…

  5. Avatar Of Liz Call Liz Call says:

    This is wrong in so many ways. These employees need more training on customer service, the airline should be sued by all. I thought the law states that service dogs must be allowed? What is the difference between under his owners legs or under the seat in front? The dog probably sensed that his owner was upset and moved closer to comfort him, as he has been trained to do! I would take the bus too!

  6. boycott US Airways Now======this is all human right. Us disabilities act–BOYCOTT!!!!!

  7. Avatar Of Tina

    tina

    says:

    US Air and Air Canada must be related somehow they are both Horrible Airlines…standing ovation to those passengers that stood BESIDE this man and his dog!!!!

  8. Avatar Of Stacey Morris

    Stacey Morris

    says:

    Crew safety was issue… ROFL! Airlines have been given permission by our GOVERNMENT to bully people to their hearts desire. Good for these passengers for having a heart. That dog is not a stuffed animal, we all get restless with the CONSTANT sitting on tarmacs, dying of lack of air and cramped seats. Imagine what its like UNDER at seat. As we watch healthcare implode remember there was once a time when flying was a joy. Then democrats came in EVERY ADMIN with regulations after regulations and now we have THIS. They can all go to hell.

    • Avatar Of Gail

      Gail

      says:

      Uh, I had an incident with rude people at an airline way before the democrats were the administration. Let’s leave politics out of everything that happens and just agree that these flight attendants were idiots.

  9. Avatar Of Mary Mack

    Mary Mack

    says:

    This is nuts! Obviously his fellow passengers felt the attendant was out of line. All passengers should have their fare returned and there should be a public apology.

  10. Avatar Of Leslie Grey Mccawley

    Leslie Grey McCawley

    says:

    Federal law requires that the space around all passengers’ feet be clear of any handbags or other items, during take off and landing, in case of emergency. So, at least there was a REASON for the flight attendant’s request, and the pilot’s hard stand. The plane would not have been allowed to take off otherwise.

    That said, surely something could be done to accommodate a living creature who, of course, would not want to be cramped under a seat! I am glad people stood up for the man and his service dog. I hope all airlines think this through a bit further, and modify some seats to allow for service dogs, in some way that meets everyone’s needs – especially the dogs’!

  11. Avatar Of Caholo

    CAHOLO

    says:

    I have a giant breed service dog. She wouldn’t want to be under the seat the whole time, as it would be uncomfortable. She couldn’t totally fit underneath anyway. I don’t see a problem, as long as the dog isn’t in the isle. I would be upset if they were being that picky.

  12. Avatar Of Diana Sheehan

    Diana Sheehan

    says:

    As a person who has a service dog, I am very aware of the law and the federal disabilities act. US airways broke the law by treating this man and his dog the way that they did and charges should be pressed. There is no excuse for the attitude of the airline and it’s crew and I personally will boycott the airline. Service dogs have a legal right to go anywhere that a human being can go. That is the law. Shame on this airline and hooray to the people who stood up for what is right .The entire crew should be fired.

  13. What in the hell is US Airways thinking? If I had been on that flight I would have probably ended up in jail and I commend the passengers that stood up for this man and his dog and I’m proud of the ones who boarded the bus with him.

    Airlines have gotten completely out of control since 9/11 and, while I realize that rules had to be tightened to keep us all safe, not allowing that dog to rest under his owner’s legs is absoltely ridiculous! I will never fly US Air again because if they treat a blind man and his seeing eye dog like that, how will they treat me?

  14. Avatar Of Dina Fothergill

    Dina Fothergill

    says:

    Common sense which there is to little of in the world today…..Could have been applied here…People need to help their fellow man…..Hats off for the people who stood up & supported Albert & his dog….The dog definately has more sense than the airlines….BOYCOTT US AIRWAYS!!!!!!
    WHEN YOU HIT THEM IN THE WALLET, THEY WILL NOTICE!!!!!!

  15. Avatar Of Martin

    martin

    says:

    FUCK US airways.

  16. Avatar Of Leah

    Leah

    says:

    This is not a NEW problem..seeing eye dogs have been with us for many many years. If its a problem for airlines then, Why hasn’t the airlines come up with a safety harness or something to make the dog safe under the seat? Very simple thing I would think.

  17. Avatar Of Margaret

    Margaret

    says:

    I fly and travel with my dog and have used several different airlines. He has always curled up under my legs. I’ve never been required to put him under a seat. If that is US Airways policy, then my dog and I will never fly with them.

  18. Avatar Of Margaret Won

    Margaret Won

    says:

    their actions were illegal and I hope he sues.

  19. Avatar Of Josie Norman

    Josie Norman

    says:

    [email protected] This is the e-mail for U.S. Airways customer relations, let them know what you think about this issues.

  20. Avatar Of Steve Dandy

    Steve Dandy

    says:

    Unreal and DISGUSTING. I say BOYCOTT US AIRWAYS.

  21. Avatar Of Gary M

    Gary M

    says:

    Are there any commercial airlines left out there who have an ounce of compassion? This is not only a violation of the Americans with Disability Act, it was, by all accounts a vengeful and totally outrageous act by airline personnel, brought upon a blind man for God’s sake! This service dog posed zero threat to the health and safety of the crew. Isn’t it comforting to know that at the top of the list of concerns by the airlines is the health and safety of the crew, “F” the passengers!.

  22. Avatar Of Nessy

    Nessy

    says:

    Everyone needs to get their money back. The Airlines needs to give EVERYONE a public apology. The one thing is that Service animals specially seeing dogs are trained to sit by the owners feet and that’s what the dog did. The dog was not barking nor putting anyone in danger. Any lawyer would be very happy to take this case!

  23. Avatar Of Sbslabradors

    sbslabradors

    says:

    This crew member is an idiot. I fly with an 90 # labrador. We usually get the bulk head. At no time has any airline ever told me to put the dog under the seat! This airline was aware from the booking that there was a service dog on board and made arrangements for the bulkhead. Congrats to the passengers. Boo to the airlines.

  24. Avatar Of Josie Norman

    Josie Norman

    says:

    I guess Us Air believes it doesn’t have to obey the law.

  25. Avatar Of Helen Lister

    Helen Lister

    says:

    Stephen Semkow, the rules say ‘during take off and landing’…… this report does not suggest the plane was doing either of these when the flight attendant threatened that the plane would be ” turned around and returned to the terminal”….. I do wish people would apply a little common sense – surely, all that is required is that a dog is under control and not standing or lying where it could cause injury to others if flung, tipped or slid by an aircraft suffering a wobble, or in an aisle obstructing other passengers or flight staff.

  26. Avatar Of Donna Becker

    Donna Becker

    says:

    There are rules. We all get that. The problem arose from the attitudes and actions of the U.S. Airways staff involved. There are lots of ways this could have been handled without causing conflict at all. The fight crew lacked true leadership, respectfulness and compassion.

  27. Avatar Of Georgia Antonyshyn

    Georgia Antonyshyn

    says:

    This is to the Steven person who said the airline was right. You must be kidding sir The people where right and a service dog needs to be on an airline with the person who needs him. NO matter what ! Airlines and the crew etc are rude most of the time and I hate US Airway and American Airlines . They are always late and have always got some reason to leave LATE. It is correct that the people get refund and thank God they helped this man out.
    The people long along on airlines where nice but we have some terrible ones like this Steven guy and others that think they are big shots . NO your not your just doing a job and that is it. You get paid for it and need to understand that you should be NICE to the Customers without them you would not have a JOB.

    Sad world for sure with stupid people running our country in ever way.

  28. Avatar Of Nancy Litman-Pulka

    Nancy Litman-Pulka

    says:

    I agree, these people should be commended for sticking up for the man and his service dog. Why can’t the airline see what they did WRONG???? It’s actions like these that speak louder than words can!!! Thanks to all who stuck with this man.

  29. Avatar Of Pamela Culli

    Pamela Culli

    says:

    I do fly but I will NEVER fly US Airways-I don’t care if they have the rate or not-I normally go American as their service is great and so is Southwest-this just gave me another reason not to use them

  30. Avatar Of Csm

    csm

    says:

    Ever since 9-11 staff and pilots of some airlines have become quite rude and dictatorial in actions. I understand some rules, as pertaining to safety, but this was unnecessary. I do not fly much any more because they have become abusive toward people instead of giving good customer service. Act like they are doing you a favor to let you fly on their plane. BOYCOTT

  31. Avatar Of Steven Semkow

    Steven Semkow

    says:

    You people need to get real. It’s FAA regulation in accordance with all ADA guidelines that the animal stay under the seat during take off and landing. This includes active taxi ways. The captain and the crew are ultimately responsible and liable for the safety if everyone on board. Are you gonna put food on their table if something happens and they lose their job because they knowingly “bent the rules”? I don’t think so. Although I don’t work for Us Airways, I do work for another airline and commend the crew for standing strong and doing what they are supposed to!

    • Avatar Of S.tasman S.Tasman says:

      It wasn’t a take off.They were sitting on the tarmac idiot.The dog was still quietly on the floor not causing a problem.The airline made it a problem.You can’t tell me the airlines have not bent the rules once in awhile.It would have been a different situation intirely if the dog was moving around and if the plane was in flight!!! I applaud all the passengers who supported and stood up for the man and his dog.

    • Avatar Of Sharyn Rogers

      Sharyn Rogers

      says:

      The plane was not moving. The pilot would have announced for all passengers to resume their seats and fasten seatbelts BEFORE take-off. THAT is when the dog would have gone back under the seat as required. The reactionary flight attendant should have kept her mouth shut and minded her OWN business until the plane was ready to start its takeoff maneuvers. I have not flown in probably 6 or 7 years and I can tell you right now that If United is still in business next time I do fly I surely will use another carrier.

    • Avatar Of Kathy Fischette

      Kathy Fischette

      says:

      Hope you never have the need for a little compassion and someone to “bend the rules” for you. You need to get a heart dude, that dog wasn’t bothering anyone or putting anyone in danger, get a grip.

      • Avatar Of Nessy

        Nessy

        says:

        is not about bending rules. The service animal did what he was trained to do. They did not break any rules. The dog stayed put and he was not putting anyone in danger.

    • Avatar Of Nessy

      Nessy

      says:

      Seeing dog is trained to sit by owners feet. If they were seating in bulk head the dog is not going to have a seat to sit under. The pets have to remain under the seats not service animals.

      The ACAA regulations provide one of the most specific statements of Federal policy regarding accommodation of service animals. While efforts to implement other Federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, rely largely on technical assistance guidance, regulatory examples, and settlements to guarantee access and accommodation rights for disabled people who have service animals, the ACAA directly regulates these rights. The act requires air carriers to permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities on flights (14 CFR 382.55 (a)).
      (1) Carriers shall accept as evidence that an animal is a service animal identification cards, other written documentation, presence of harnesses or markings on harnesses, tags, or the credible verbal assurances of the qualified handicapped person using the animal.
      (2) Carriers shall permit a service animal to accompany a qualified handicapped individual in any seat which the person sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed in order to facilitate an emergency evacuation.
      (3) In the event that special information concerning the transportation of animals outside the continental United States is either required to be or is provided by the carrier, the information shall be provided to all passengers traveling outside the continental United States with the carrier, including those traveling with service animals.

      Theres more info on this website!

      nsarco.com/acaa.html

      If you work for an airline you can speak to the CRO.

    • Avatar Of Margaret

      Margaret

      says:

      ADA has nothing to do with it because they do not cover airlines and flight. And as I stated before, my dog has never had to ride under a seat.

    • Avatar Of Marianne

      marianne

      says:

      Get a life Steven! Most dogs are better behaved that most passengers!!!
      Why don’t you next time crawl under the seat and stay there for an hour!

    • Avatar Of G Storm

      G Storm

      says:

      Actually it’s not an FAA requirement that the dog remain “under the seat”. There is no way that a large dog of any breed, such as Golden Retriever or German Shepherd can fit under the seat and the dog and owner should have been allowed to move to the bulkhead where it would have been a much more appropriate seat. It is the same with “service dogs” and yes I know because I’ve taken them on planes and so have service dog owners that I know. I have talked with the airlines and read carefully the requirements. That dog could not be required to be “under a seat”. Moved to the bulkhead sure, but that’s it. Only dog’s being carried on, in a carrier as carry on baggage must be under the seat and not allowed to be removed from the carrier.

    • Avatar Of L Smith

      L Smith

      says:

      uh, cover up Steven, you’re ignorance is showing

    • Avatar Of Nunzio

      Nunzio

      says:

      If the plane was parked, as reported, passengers are NOT required to remain seated and the dog should NOT have been required to remain under the seat until the aircraft was ready to resume taxiing. Its pretty obvious why USAir ranks near the bottom in customer service

    • Avatar Of Chris

      Chris

      says:

      Its illegal to put a dog that big under a small area that animal abuse and ffa wouldn’t support that nonsense. These been plenty of other people whom have fly with company and never had to do that. So you are a comeplete liar. You need to get a grip and understand the usa airways is blamming the customers a blind man and his blind dog. than helping the man out.

      They refuse to help when there were plenty of seats. Really would you think customer whom got upset were kick of cause of safety? They were kick off cause they knew what tehy did wsa wrong and didn’t want to deal with rude passnagers or should i say rude empoylees why do you think usa airways have failed to comment on the story since than?

  32. Avatar Of Patricia Mangum

    patricia mangum

    says:

    shame on US AIRWAYS

  33. Avatar Of Linda

    Linda

    says:

    There is a reason (many, actually) it’s called USwAir… (you swear)

  34. Avatar Of Robin Howlett

    Robin Howlett

    says:

    US Airways is a terrible airline, I know from personal experience with them. They have awful service and rude staff, it amazes me they are still in business. I salute the passengers action they should all get a refund and future flight credit.

    • Avatar Of Patricia

      Patricia

      says:

      I agree….will never fly USAir again. I’ve had a couple bad experiences with them in the past. How stupid of the flight attendant and the captain to insist that poor animal stay stuffed under the seat while the plane sits on the runway for over an hour. I applaud the passengers who rallied around that man and his dog. It warms my heart to know there are still good people around 🙂

  35. Avatar Of Mb

    MB

    says:

    Remind me not to fly on US Air. How dare they.

  36. Avatar Of M

    M

    says:

    THIS is why my dog & no longer fly US air. We fly American Airlines.

  37. Avatar Of Christy

    Christy

    says:

    I hope those who stood up and went on the bus with this man get applauded for their wonderful act. That was quite a sacrifice when they could have stayed on the airplane. Thank you! Those who stood up for this man stood up for all of us with a service dog. THANK YOU!! U. S. Airways lacks conflict resolution skills. They created a hostile situation. I’ve come across some of these airline attendants that get nasty when you don’t have to do so. They can be ignorant. Don’t get me wrong, there are some who have great skills to alleviate, too bad this one wasn’t awake. I hope they are given a mandatory assignment of going blind for a week and learn what it is to not be able to have vision.

  38. Avatar Of Julie Jo Julie Jo says:

    THAT was so wrong of The US Airways crew to EVEN do that and not respect this man’s rights. I applaud those who stood up for him and stuck to their guns. I don’t fly myself, but I would say that until this man gets a real apology from the airline, and EVERYONE compensated for their time and trouble, to boycott the airline. That’s what I would do. There was no reason for the crew of that airplane to act in that manner. I hope they all get fired.

  39. Avatar Of Karen

    Karen

    says:

    Airlines need to get real – it was the airlines fault ad the dog did nothing wrong. Thanks to the people that supported them.

  40. Avatar Of Carolan

    carolan

    says:

    You know what? that airline needs to reimburse that passenger. Disgusting behavior – it was their fault the flight was sitting there. A Holes if you ask me.

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