Aviation

Man sues airline for discrimination after being removed from flight

An African-American man who says he was forced to find his own way home after being removed from an American Airlines flight is suing the airline for discrimination.

American man Dana Halcomb was reportedly removed from a connecting American Airlines flight in Phoenix, after complaints of his allergy to a fellow passenger’s service dog.

Halcomb was on his way back to Austin from Las Vegas after celebrating his birthday in April when the incident occurred.

“Dana was taken off an airplane so a dog could fly first-class cabin,” Holcomb’s attorney, Reginald McKamie Sr., told KWTX during a press conference on Tuesday.

In a statement obtained by Traveller, American Airlines said: “In the case of an allergy, we work to re-seat a passenger further away from the service or support animal.”

“The crew offered to move the customer with the support animal to another seat in the first class cabin 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.”

According to KWTX, Holcomb denies he was confrontational, with the lawsuit against American Airlines including “sworn statements” by two passengers in support of him.

Holcomb and his attorney reportedly want the airline to change their policies on discrimination and how passengers are treated, and are seeking “punitive damages” and “contractual damages”.

In a statement to KWTX, American Airlines said, “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 travelling 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.”

The airline added that if a lawsuit is filed, “American will review it and respond in court when appropriate”.

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