Police drag woman off Southwest Airlines flight

Police drag woman off Southwest Airlines flight

Police dragged a woman off a flight after she claimed a ‘life-threatening allergy’ to dogs

Police officers physically removed a woman from a Southwest Airlines plane before it took off from Baltimore, the latest passenger scuffle to be captured on video and magnified on social media.

After saying she was severely allergic to animals — there were two dogs on board — the woman refused the crew’s request to leave the plane. The crew then called on police to intervene.

A film producer recorded the ensuing struggle between the woman and officers and posted it online. The scene from Tuesday night was reminiscent of an April incident in which security officers yanked a man out of his seat and dragged him off a United Express flight in Chicago, sparking a public outcry about shoddy treatment of airline passengers.

Southwest, perhaps learning from United’s initial hesitant reaction, immediately apologized. “We are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the customer’s removal by local law enforcement officers,” Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said Wednesday.

Mainz said the woman had reported she had a life-threatening pet allergy but couldn’t show a medical certificate that she needed to continue on the flight to Los Angeles.

The incident began quietly near the back of the plane, passengers said, as Southwest employees — including one of the pilots — talked to the woman. Mainz said the airline offered to rebook her on a flight the next day, but she declined — hers was the last flight of the night.

Airline employees ended up calling police, and the officers asked her to leave.

One officer pushed her from behind while another pulled her from in front, the video showed.

“What are you doing?” she asked. “I will walk off. Don’t touch me!”

“All right, let’s walk. Let’s walk,” one of the officers answered.

One passenger urged the woman to file a complaint, others urged her to walk off the plane so she wouldn’t get injured.

The airline declined to give the passenger’s name. She could be heard identifying herself as a professor. She told officers she needed to get to Los Angeles because her father was having surgery the next day.

“She put up a pretty ferocious fight to not be removed from the plane,” said Bill Dumas, the film producer who took the video.

Dumas said the police officers “were in a very, very tough situation” because of the woman’s resistance, and Southwest didn’t have much choice because the plane wouldn’t take off until the woman left.

Southwest does not notify passengers ahead of time about animals on board.

“In most cases, we can separate the animal from customer with an allergy,” said Mainz, the Southwest spokesman. “The onus is on the customer to tell us what their needs are.”

Related: Experts say police who dragged passenger had other options

United was widely condemned after security officers in Chicago dragged a 69-year-old man off an overbooked United Express flight to make room for crew members flying to their next flight. United CEO Oscar Munoz was excoriated for initially blaming the passenger, who lost teeth and suffered a concussion. United reached a settlement with the passenger for undisclosed terms.

“In terms of customer service, the airline industry has had a challenging year,” said Marc Raybin, president of a public-relations firm in South Bend, Indiana. He said that Southwest and the transit police in Baltimore may have followed their rules, “but the optics of this certainly look bad for Southwest and the airline industry as whole.”

Southwest, Raybin said, should keep apologizing, pick up the cost of the passenger’s flight and expenses, and “do not blame the customer at any point.”

___

David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter

David Koenig, The Associated Press

Just Posted

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

People had a chance to interact with different animals at the petting zoo, participate in mutton busting, and buy everything local during the Fall Fair held in 2019. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
55th Fall Fair in Vanderhoof cancelled

Alternative events eyed once again

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read