A woman was dragged off a flight over her 'life-threatening allergy'
What is it with 2017 and people getting dragged off of airplanes? Is this some kind of convoluted metaphor for something? The inability of modern people to effectively move in space and time? The intensification of the American security state? Yeah, probably the latter. Perhaps both.
An incident with Southwest Airlines occurred this past Tuesday, where a woman claiming a severe pet allergy was dragged from a flight after demanding that two dogs be removed from the plane. The airline has already apologized for the incident, but the full context is somewhat ambiguous, and it is not clear if the woman or the officers are entirely in the wrong.
This particular case was a Baltimore flight to Los Angeles, and Southwest Airlines reports that two dogs were aboard the plane. One was a pet, and the other was an 'emotional support animal'. A woman onboard brought up the claim that she had a "deadly allergy" to dogs, and asked that the two pets be removed. However, the crew of the plane could not comply, as the woman did not have documentation of her allergy, as per their protocol.
Now, I'm not certain that anyone would have documentation on them proving that they had an allergy, unless they were just at the doctor's office.
"Our 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 onboard," reads the airline's statement. In the case of an allergy, it is entirely up to the allergic person to demonstrate proof of said allergy. Was it the passenger's fault for coming ill-prepared, or is the airline's system too obtuse? What would be done with the dogs if they were removed from the plane?
The flight crew "made repeated attempts" to explain their rather byzantine policy to the woman, who allegedly became irate, refusing to leave the plane, and law enforcement entered the cabin. That is when Bill Dumas began to shoot footage, showing the woman be dragged by her waist down the plane aisle, and crying out that "You have ripped my pants off."
Bill Dumas, the man who shot the video, was ambiguous in his statements. He said:
"If you look at the police, they were being overly aggressive...really, she wasn’t giving them much of a choice, and the people on the plane were saying, ‘Just get off the plane'."
The airline apologized, saying: "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."
It appears to me that this was a complex situation with no clear solution. Who would have taken care of the dogs thrown off the flight? Why wasn't the woman fully cooperating? Why were the police claiming that she could walk when she said that she could not?
It appears that multiple parties are at fault, but being dragged off a plane and having your movement obstructed always feels terrible. It seems an apology was in order, and perhaps a review of their allergy protocols. Perhaps they should how ahead of time on the Southwest website whether or not a flight is at risk for allergy or not, or inform passengers before boarding.