A black traveler who says he’s allergic to dogs plans to sue American Airlines after the carrier allegedly removed him from first class so a pooch could remain seated.
The conflict occurred on April 14 aboard a flight from Phoenix, Ariz., to Austin, Texas. That’s where Dana Holcomb complained he could not be seated near another passenger and that person’s service dog, according to USA Today.
American Airlines spokeswoman LaKesha Brown reportedly said in a statement that the crew first offered to move the passenger with the service dog to a different seat in first class, then offered to seat Holcomb in coach and reimburse him the difference in cost, but those solutions were not to his satisfaction.
A lawyer for Holcomb argued that his client “was taken off an airplane so a dog could fly first-class cabin" and accused the airline of “repeatedly” removing black passengers from flights and leaving them “humiliated” and with no way home.
Holcomb’s attorney, Reginald McKamie Sr., stated “What American Airlines is doing is discrimination.”
An African-American doctor from Houston, Texas, said she was booted from an American Airlines flight in July because her outfit, a romper, was “inappropriate,” according to The Root. The airline issued an apology to that passenger and her son, who was also on the flight. They were eventually let back on the plane.
The NAACP issued a travel alert to black passengers in 2017 noting "a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” the Guardian reported. The airline, which claims to transport a half-million passengers daily, responded by stating there was no room for discrimination in their company.
KWTX in Texas reported that Holcomb was returning from a birthday celebration in Las Vegas, when he caught a connecting flight in Phoenix, where the kerfuffle occurred. His final destination was central Texas, where he lives. The airline confirmed to USA Today that Holcomb was removed before the 1,000-mile flight home from Phoenix left the runway.