— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 27, 2017
After this summer’s controversy involving a doctor’s violent ejection from a United Airlines flight, Southwest Airlines’ actions regarding another removal are raising eyebrows. However, this situation arrives with a different set-up, for there was no overbooked flight as with the United Airlines situation. Instead, a female passenger reported to flight crew personnel — after learning that two dogs were aboard — that she had a serious pet allergy. And as one can see in the above NBC News video, Transportation Authority officers pushed and pulled her off the plane while she struggled and protested.
As NBC further reports, the two dogs — one a service animal — were present in the cabin area of the plane. The woman reportedly requested that the dogs be removed from the flight while disclosing a “life-threatening” allergy. The airline made the call to ask the passenger to leave the flight, and she refused but couldn’t produce a proper medical certificate in order to remain aboard. Southwest has made a statement on their policy, via Business Insider:
“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 on board. Our Flight Crew made repeated attempts to explain the situation to the Customer, however, she refused to deplane and law enforcement became involved.”
Many on social media are criticizing the forcible nature of the woman’s removal. In the meantime, a fellow passenger told NBC that the woman kept “yelling random things” and changing her story — “She like kept saying she was pregnant, and then I heard her say her father had surgery and then she said she was a professor and she needed to be in L.A.” — while making it clear that she knew that people were recording the incident, which delayed the flight for 45 minutes.
In response to the video footage going public, Southwest has issued a public apology to the passenger, and they plan to reach out to her:
“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.”
Although this situation is clearly different — and much less violent — than the removal of Dr. David Dao from a United Airlines flight, it still raises questions that will undoubtedly play out in the public eye for some time to come.