Albert Rizzi and his guide dog (ABC 7)


A dispute involving a blind man, his guide dog and an airline crew led to the cancellation of a flight from Philadelphia to Long Island.



Albert Rizzi (ABC 7)

Albert Rizzi said the argument began Wednesday night when a crew member told him to put his service dog under the seat in front of him as they waited for the US Airways Express flight to leave for Islip, N.Y.

Rizzi said the dog had gotten restless and was curled up beneath his legs, according to 6 ABC.

But flight attendants described the dog as agitated and expressed concern that Rizzi was not controlling it, airline spokeswoman Liz Landau said.

Rizzi became verbally abusive, and the crew decided to remove him, Landau said. That decision caused some of the other 33 travelers to become upset, she said, and the flight was canceled.

US Airways then arranged for a bus to drive passengers to their destination on Long Island.

Passenger Frank Ohlhorst said Rizzi wasn't being disruptive.

"We were like, 'Why is this happening? He's not a problem. What is going on?'" said Ohlhorst.

Rizzi said he was "humbled" by the support from his fellow travelers, according to WPVI. "These people, all of them, got on a bus and drove 3 and a half hours from Philadelphia," he said. "They could have stayed on the plane, but they chose not to. I'm so humbled."

Landau told the AP that crews are very familiar with the protocol for service animals, but that the airline is reviewing how the situation was handled.


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