Woman suing American Airlines claims flight attendant threatened her, locked dog in bathroom
A Florida woman is suing American Airlines, claiming an airline flight attendant verbally abused her and locked her emotional support dog in an airplane bathroom.
Avigail Diveroli was traveling with her husband, her 87-year-old grandfather and her emotional support dog, Simba, from Miami to Los Angeles in April when the alleged incident took place.
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According to the court documents obtained by ABC News, Diveroli, who was pregnant at the time and suffers from severe anxiety, said she called the airline twice ahead of her flight to confirm that Simba would be able to sit in business class with her. She allegedly was told she could bring the dog on the plane.
"This is a terrible case where AA completely ignored the mental anguish of a passenger, ignored their own carrier agreement with passengers, and violated every standard of decency."
Diveroli was reportedly able to board with her family and her dog. They each took their seats in business class without issue.
However, American Airlines told Fox News the particular plane the woman was on does not allow dogs in premium class seating.
"Also, this travel was booked on a 777, which doesn’t allow pets in the premium cabin. Our team at the airport in Miami offered to rebook the passenger on a later flight, but they declined, and opted to take a seat with the pet in the main cabin," a spokesperson for the airline shared.
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However, during the flight, the woman claims a flight attendant saw her dog in the kennel and yelled at her and threatened her with arrest once the plane landed. The attendant, identified as Regina in the suit, allegedly said it was against Federal Aviation Administration rules to have the dog.
Regina later grabbed the kennel with Simba inside and slammed it “with the door to the bathroom,” ABC News reported. The flight attendant also locked the dog in the bathroom for the remaining hour of the flight.
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Diveroli also claims in the suit that the attendant “forcefully downgraded” the woman from business class to another seat midflight, after ordering her to “lock up Simba in the bathroom.”
The woman was allegedly escorted off the flight by police once the plane landed at LAX, but they later concluded she had not committed a crime.
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"This is a terrible case where AA completely ignored the mental anguish of a passenger, ignored their own carrier agreement with passengers, and violated every standard of decency," the suit said.
Diveroli is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 and a jury trial, according to the lawsuit. Diveroli’s attorney did not have further comment regarding the case.
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In a statement to Fox News, American Airlines claimed the dog did not fit under the seat and flight attendants tried to handle the situation within the FAA's regulations.
"Our professional crews are there to ensure the safety and comfort of all customers. In this case, the customer’s dog was traveling as a pet rather than an emotional support animal or service animal. FAA regulations require pets to stay in kennels that fit under the seat, however, this kennel didn’t fit under the seat."
According to the airline’s website, one emotional support pet per passenger is allowed on a flight as long as it is small enough to fit on the passenger’s lap, under the seat or in a kennel that fits under the seat in front.