According to reports, Dana Holcomb is seeking damages from American and wants to change the overall discrimination policies of the airline.
Holcomb was returning home after attending a birthday celebration in Las Vegas, he was confirmed to fly in first class on American Airlines Flight 691 after a layover in Phoenix. While on the flight, he discovered that the passenger traveling beside him was accompanied by her support dog.
Holcomb, of Killeen, Texas, shared that he is allergic to dogs and reportedly began to suffer signs of a reaction within minutes.
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A passenger offered to exchange seats with someone else in the first-class cabin but then the captain and flight crew got involved. And Holcomb was asked to move towards the back of the plane.
The captain was reportedly caught on camera pointing in Holcomb’s face.
By the time the woman and her dog found a passenger to exchange seats with, security had already been called and Holcomb was escorted off the plane in Phoenix without his luggage or medication. He said he had to find his own way home.
“To be honest, it made me feel that I was less than a dog,” Holcomb to KWTX.
“Dana was taken off an airplane so a dog could fly first-class cabin,” attorney Reginald McKamie, Sr. told reporters in Texas on Tuesday while announcing the legal action, KWTX reported.
“What American Airlines is doing is discrimination,” he said. “They have repeatedly humiliated African American citizens by throwing them off the plane, leaving them with no way home, no hotel, just throwing them off the plane.”
In April, when the story first started making the rounds, American Airlines spokesperson Curtis Blessing said Holcomb had been removed from the flight “after causing a confrontation” during the incident.
“They were then offered a seat in the main cabin to provide additional separation and were offered a refund for the difference in their first-class fare but also declined and remained confrontational,” the initial statement said.
However, an attorney who was aboard the flight refuted the claim, according to KXXV.
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A witness, Jay Youngdahl, a Houston based attorney who said he is an executive platinum member with the airline, said he heard the captain saying Holcomb was likely to be a “danger.”
He also said before the flight took off, the captain invited the young woman into the cockpit to “have some kind of good ol’ time with the dog.”
“On the way out I said to the captain, ‘That was a racist thing, sir,’” Youngdahl told Central News Now. He also tweeted that Holcomb’s offense was “flying while back” to his three followers.
In a statement, spokesperson Joshua Freed said the company will review the lawsuit and respond in court when appropriate.
“We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us,” the statement read.
“Regulations require American Airlines to transport service and support animals. American makes every effort to accommodate all passengers, including those traveling with and seated near service or support animals. In the case of an allergy, we work to re-seat a passenger further away from the service or support animal,” the statement continued.