UPDATE: An updated statement from American Airlines has been included.
A Black man is suing American Airlines for discrimination after claiming he was forced off a plane in April “so a dog could fly first class.”
Texas-based Dana Holcomb says he was flying first class from Las Vegas to Austin after his 53rd birthday in April, when he realized that he had been assigned a seat next to a woman traveling with her support dog, KWTX reports.
Unfortunately, he is allergic to dogs.
Although Holcomb and the woman tried to solve the problem with other passengers in the first-class cabin, the captain and flight crew allegedly intervened and asked Holcomb to move to a seat towards the back of the plane.
The interaction led to the captain calling security and forcefully removing Holcomb from the plane, even though the woman with the dog found a passenger willing to exchange seats with her, according to KXXV.
He was then left in Vegas, and missed his connecting flight to Austin.
“Dana was taken off an airplane so a dog could fly first-class cabin,” attorney McKamie, Sr. told reporters in Texas on Tuesday while announcing the legal action.
“What American Airlines is doing is discrimination,” he added. “They have repeatedly humiliated African American citizens by throwing them off the plane, leaving them with no way home, no hotel, just throwing them off the plane.”
The airline responded, stating that they are required to transport service and support animals as per federal regulations, and make “every effort to accommodate all passengers, including those traveling with and seated near service or support animals.” :
“Mr. Holcomb’s seat was next to a customer with an emotional support animal. In an effort to accommodate Mr. Holcomb, the customer with the emotional support animal offered to switch seats with another customer so Mr. Holcomb could remain in his seat,” the statement continued. “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. ”
The airline has yet to receive the lawsuit.