A black man is reportedly suing American Airlines for allegedly removing him from first-class to make room for a dog.
According to reports, Dana Holcomb was flying back to Austin from Las Vegas in April when there was a layover in Phoenix. While boarding the flight, Holcomb, who was seated in first class, realized the person next to him had a service dog. Holcomb is allergic to dogs and a reaction began within minutes.
Holcomb said the passenger offered to switch seats but after no one was willing to give up their seat the pilot and a stewardess got involved.
“At that point (workers) told him you’re going to go to the rear of the plane or get off the plane,” Holcomb’s attorney Reginald McKamie, Sr. said during a press conference.
Holcomb was then taken off the plane after American Airlines employees alleged he was confrontational, which he denied. Two other passengers made sworn statements corroborating Holcomb.
“What American Airlines is doing is discrimination. They have repeatedly humiliated African-American citizens by throwing them off the plane, leaving them with no way home, no hotel, just throwing them off the plane,” McKamie added.
After disembarking, Holcomb said he wasn’t given his luggage or his allergy medication and had to figure out an alternative way home. He stayed at a hotel in Phoenix and then flew back to Auston via Delta Airlines. McKamie said Holcomb is seeking punitive damages, contractual damages.
In a statement, American Airlines said they make accommodations for service dogs and will look into Holcomb’s lawsuit.
“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.”
“Mr. Holcomb’s seat was next to a customer with an emotional support animal. In an effort to accommodate Mr. Holcomb, the customer with the emotional support animal offered to switch seats with another customer so Mr. Holcomb could remain in his seat. Mr. Holcomb wasn’t satisfied with that solution, so he was given the option of a seat further away from the service animal in the main cabin with a refund in the difference in fare, which he also declined. After all the attempts to accommodate Mr. Holcomb were declined and he refused to comply with crew member instruction, he was removed from the plane. Our team offered to rebook Mr. Holcomb and refunded his first-class ticket. “