- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2013

Passengers aboard a US Airways flight in Philadelphia on Wednesday banded together in support for a legally blind man who was kicked off the plane for his unruly guide dog.

Flight attendants said Albert Rizzi’s guide dog was out of control, but other passengers wholeheartedly disagreed, refusing to fly with the airline if the blind man wasn’t allowed on the plane, ABC 7 reported.

The flight was canceled and the passengers were bused to Long Island by the airline.

Passengers told the station that the flight attendant wouldn’t clear the flight for takeoff without the dog going under the plane’s seat. The dog waited under the seat at first, but after the plane sat on the tarmac for about an hour and a half, the dog became restless.


“The lady comes back and gets very insistent, and I said, ‘Look, I don’t understand what you want me to do.’ I said, ‘He’s as best as he can, he’s where he needs to be,’” Mr. Rizzi said.

One passenger said others came to the man’s defense.

“She came back and said to him, ‘You’ve got about a minute to get this straightened out,’” the passenger told ABC 7. “And he tried to do whatever he could, and she went back to the front of the plane. We were taxiing like we were going to take off. And at that point in time, we’re about to take off, and all the sudden the captain gets on the PA and says we have to head back to the terminal. … We were all kind of raised our voices and said this is a real problem. So the captain winds up coming out of the cockpit, and he basically asked us all to leave the aircraft.”

Officials at US Airways said Mr. Rizzi was belligerent and the crew’s safety was in jeopardy, but other passengers said that isn’t true.

Mr. Rizzi took to Facebook to express his disappointment.

“I cannot believe this. I was removed from the plane that I was supposed to be on to go home from Philadelphia because my dog couldn’t sit in a spot for an hour and a half on the tarmac such a joke,” he said, adding that the other passengers were very supportive.

“There were 35 people on the flight tonight. Every one of them stood up in solidarity for the discriminatory treatment I received and the way my dog was unwelcome on the flight,” he said.

Miriam Woods Baxter commented: “My brother-in-law was on the plane with you. He is disgusted with the way you were treated. I’m sorry you were treated this way.”