PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — A US Airways plane set to travel between Philadelphia and Ronkonkoma, N.Y. had a change in flight plan after a dispute between crew members and blind man Albert Rizzi. When Rizzi was removed from the plane because his service dog was restless, the flight was cancelled because the other 33 passengers became so upset.
According to KMSP, the plane sat on the tarmac waiting to take off for 45 minutes. Rizzi told Newsday that his seat in the last row didn’t have a space under the seat for his service dog, Doxy. The dog was initially placed under the seat of another passenger, but became restless during the delay and moved into the aisle. Rizzi said after that, a flight attendant became agitated and abusive.
“The flight attendant comes over and says, ‘I need you to get that dog stowed again.’ She comes back and gets in my face again (and says), ‘I told you that dog needs to be under a seat or we are not taking off,'” Rizzi told KMSP.
The plane taxied back to the gate where Rizzi got off, but he wasn’t alone. The apparent mistreatment from the crew moved the other passengers to revolt. One told KMSP that he was ready to deplane, rent a car and drive Rizzi to Long Island. The flight was cancelled because the crew didn’t feel comfortable with how upset the passengers had become, and they were placed on a bus to complete their journey.
US Airways alleges that Rizzi was verbally abusive and refused to comply with crew members, which is why he was removed. In the aftermath, Rizzi said he was glad that others came to his aid.
“When I heard those people coming off the plane saying what they said, I felt like a million dollars and more humble than I have ever felt in my entire life,” he told KMSP.