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

Pedersen places in prestigious top 25 at Cross-Country Provincial Championships

Local junior girls and boys teams performed well at provincial running event

Province not doing enough for forestry sector, say Liberals

Although Minister of Forests says government working to diversify industry, rural economies

Local company Northern Homecraft wins big at Northern B.C. awards

Vanderhoof company won in two categories for homes built in Fort St. James area

Stolen truck involved in fatal collision on Highway 16

Wednesday’s two-vehicle crash killed one man, 23, and injured two others

UPDATE: West Fraser to permanently reduce production in Quesnel, Fraser Lake

The move will affect 75 employees in Quesnel, 60 in Fraser Lake

VIDEO: Two officers of B.C. Legislature escorted out amid investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Pot users, investors need to be vigilant at Canada-U.S. border

U.S. authorities say anyone who admits to having used pot before it became legal could be barred

Shirtless stranger loomed over couch and started stabbing, bloody B.C. murder trial hears

Colin John pleads not guilty as trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder case

Late 2019 too long to wait for ridesharing: B.C. Conservatives

“While the rest of the world is embracing this transportation revolution, B.C. is only now staggering slowly toward legislation on a business model that’s been mainstreamed for over a decade in other jurisdictions.”

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

ICBC warns shoppers of the high-accident season at mall parking lots

Over 150,000 accidents happened during the holiday season last year

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

COLUMN: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Jason Aldean, Old Dominion to headline Merritt’s Rockin’ River concerts next summer

Four-day music festival at Coldwater River from Aug. 1 to 4

Most Read