Man With Dog Allergy Kicked Off Airline After Refusing To Sit Next To Passenger With Dog
By Parker Diakite
A black man is suing American Airlines for discrimination after he claims he was removed from first-class to accommodate another passenger’s support dog.
American Airlines confirmed with USA TODAY that passenger Dana Holcomb was removed from a connecting flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Austin, Texas, on April 14 after crewmembers made “all attempts to accommodate Mr. Holcomb.”
Holcomb, who was on his way back to Texas after celebrating his birthday in Las Vegas, said he had an allergic reaction to a passenger’s support dog. He said the passenger offered to switch seats but after no one volunteered, crew members and the pilot got involved, as reported on KWTX.
After questioning why he had to move to the back of the plane, Holcomb said staff told him that his only options were to move to the rear or get off the plane.
He was removed after employees said he was “confrontational,” a claim he denies.
According to the lawsuit, two passengers submitted sworn statements supporting Holcomb’s claims.
“What American Airlines is doing is discrimination,” Holcomb’s attorney, Reginald McKamie Sr, said during a press conference with local reporters. “They have repeatedly humiliated African American citizens by throwing them off the plane, leaving them with no way home, leaving them with no hotels, just throwing them off the plane.”
According to McKamie, his client was forced to stay overnight in Pheonix, without his luggage or medicine and forced to find another way home.
McKamie is seeking punitive and contractual damages for Holcomb, and the two are hoping the airline changes its policies on discrimination and how passengers are treated.
A statement from American Airlines reads:
“We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.
“Federal regulations require American Airlines to transport service and support animals. American makes every effort to accommodate all passengers, including those traveling with and seated near service or support animals. In the case of an allergy, we work to re-seat a passenger further away from the service or support animal. If the customer is still not comfortable flying, we will re-book them on the next available flight to their destination.”
“If a lawsuit is filed, American will review it and respond in court when appropriate.”