September 28, 2017
Passenger Forcibly Dragged off a Southwest Flight
A woman was dragged off a Southwest flight from Baltimore (BWI) to Los Angeles (LAX) this past Tuesday (September 26, 2017). The passenger complained that she had a “deadly allergy” to dogs and demanded that an emotional support dog and a service dog onboard be removed. Both dogs belonged to other passengers. Southwest refused to remove the animals as it’s against their policy.
According to other passengers on board, the woman then asked the FA to give her an injection to alleviate her symptoms. The FA refused to do this since the woman didn’t have the required medical certificate. The captain then offered her a chance to step off the plane and get the injection from a qualified individual, which she refused.
Given with no good viable options, the flight attendants then asked the passenger to leave the aircraft. Southwest policy states that a customer without a medical certificate may be denied boarding if they report a life-threatening allergic reaction and cannot travel safely with an animal on board. When the woman refused to leave, citing her need to be in LA for her father’s surgery, law enforcement was brought on board to remove her.
Southwest clearly had two bad choices here. Airlines are required to accommodate passengers with service animals and the woman said she had a deadly allergy to dogs. If Southwest chose to allow her to remain onboard and she had a reaction mid-flight, they’d have to divert the plane and the woman could potentially die. Since they couldn’t remove the dogs, they clearly made the less-bad decision to remove the passenger. This is of course somewhat reminiscent of when United dragged a doctor off a flight back in April. Southwest has since issued the following apology:
“We are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the Customer’s removal by local law enforcement officers. We publicly offer our apologies to this Customer for her experience and we will be contacting her directly to address her concerns. Southwest Airlines was built on Customer Service, and it is always our goal for all Customers to have a positive experience.”
Do you think Southwest could have handled this tough situation better?