Share This Page

Philadelphia-to-New York flight canceled over blind man's guide dog

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 6:42 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — A dispute involving a blind man, his guide dog and an airline crew led to the cancellation of a flight from Philadelphia to New York, leaving passengers to be sent by bus to their destination.

Albert Rizzi said the argument began Wednesday night when a crew member told him to put his service dog under the seat in front of him as they waited for the US Airways Express flight to leave for Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

He said on Thursday that the flight attendant claimed the dog made an unsafe situation.

“She was very confrontational to the point where her tone was not appreciated,” he said. “I was ripped off the airplane. I was very upset.”

Rizzi said the dog had gotten restless and was curled up beneath his legs.

But flight attendants described the dog as agitated and expressed concern that Rizzi was not controlling it, airline spokeswoman Liz Landau said.

Rizzi became verbally abusive, and the crew decided to remove him, Landau said. That decision caused some of the other 33 travelers to become upset, she said, and the flight was canceled.

US Airways arranged for a bus to drive passengers to Long Island.

Fellow passenger Frank Ohlhorst told WPVI-TV, which first reported the encounter, that Rizzi was not being disruptive.

“We were like, ‘Why is this happening? He's not a problem. What is going on?' ” Ohlhorst said.

Landau said the airline is reviewing how the situation was handled.

Rizzi said he later learned there had been open seats on the plane. The flight attendant “never tried to move me or anybody else to secure the aircraft the way she said it needed to be secured,” he said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.