Fliers Rebel After Blind Man, Dog Booted Off Flight

All passengers walk off US Airways flight

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 15, 2013 7:34 AM CST

(Newser) – An amazing show of solidarity on a US Airways Express flight Wednesday night: After a flight attendant made a blind man and his guide dog exit the plane, all the other passengers exited with them in protest. The flight attendant was upset because the guide dog, Doxy, wouldn't stay underneath Albert Rizzi's seat, Rizzi tells 1010 WINS. There was a delay, and as the Philadelphia-to-Long Island flight sat on the tarmac, Doxy became agitated. The flight attendant said the dog needed to be "stowed under the seat," rather than beneath Rizzi's legs. But Rizzi was in the back row and says he had no storage room underneath his seat, and adds that the flight attendant never offered to move him.

After the flight attendant ultimately had security escort Rizzi off the plane, his angry fellow passengers—35 people, by Rizzi's count—followed. (One 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." Another tells ABC News, "This dog was more controlled than the people onboard.") In a statement to CBS Philly, US Airways paints a slightly different picture, saying the dog was roaming the aisle, that Rizzi was "verbally abusive" during the incident, and that "other customers were unhappy about the situation." The flight was ultimately canceled because the "crew did not feel comfortable operating the plane," and passengers were bused to Long Island.

This Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 file photo shows an American Airlines plane and a US Airways plane at parked at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport.
This Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 file photo shows an American Airlines plane and a US Airways plane at parked at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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