Published September 07, 2013
A disabled Vietnam veteran was escorted off a US Airways flight in Phoenix after getting into a heated discussion with a flight attendant over seating for his service dog.
MyFoxPhoenix.com reports that the unidentified man was boarding a flight from Phoenix to El Paso on Sept. 7 when he refused to comply with a crew member's instructions to place his service dog on the floor.
A video of the confrontation posted on the Internet by a fellow passenger shows the man yelling at the flight crew, insisting that the dog remain seated on the empty seat next to him.
"I'm sorry folks but I've earned the right to have this service animal because of my service to this country in Vietnam," the man said. "I am 100 percent disabled, I have a service dog because of it and everyone has to obey the [Americans with Disabilities Act] laws except this airline! So I'm sorry but I'm not budging!"
A US Airways spokesman told MyFoxPhoenix.com that service animals are required to remain on the ground for safety reasons.
"If the aircraft were to experience something in the air and it needs to evacuate you don't want that animal to be in the way of people getting off the aircraft," spokesman John McDonald said.
McDonald told the station that the veteran told airport personnel he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He said there was concern among members of the flight crew that the man would get even more upset after the aircraft took off.
"We had had conversations to the customer trying to explain what was going on. And the captain was involved when the flight attendant wasn't able to resolve it and in fact, many of our captains are former military people, this is an issue we are very familiar with and unfortunately this gentleman's reaction was what resulted in the incident," McDonald said.
Airport police cited the man with trespassing and booked him on another flight for the following day. US Airways also paid his tab for a hotel room for the night, according to the report.