Hi folks–Mike (Beth’s spousal unit) here with a guest post.
Beth wrote recently about people abusing the ADA by falsely or at least loosely claiming their pet was a service dog. Well, the less I say about that phenomenon, the better.
On the extreme flip side—at least from what I can glean, is this example of bad airline behavior excluding a blind man and a legitimate guide dog. I’ll link to the Gawker post here that includes a TV news report video, but here’s the gist:
A passenger who is blind named Albert Rizzi boarded the U.S. Airways Express flight from Philadelphia to Long Island. He was asked to have his dog sit under the seat in front of him—yes, like a piece of carryon luggage.
Well, judging from comments at the Gawker blog on this subject, lots of people can’t believe the dog has to scrunch up under the seat. But as a veteran of traveling with a person with a guide dog, I can tell you it’s true. Unless we are seated at a bulkhead (which the airline often moves us to, whether or not we request it), the dog is supposed to get under the seat in front.
And you know what? They manage, just fine. It’s part of their training. The Seeing Eye taught Beth to back her dog into the space, and indeed, all of her dogs—each 60 lbs. at least—fit fine. In fact, it’s pretty routine for passengers who board after us not to even notice Beth’s dog until we stand to exit the plane—at which point the dog stands, shakes and stretches to the extreme surprise (and occasional shrieks) of nearby passengers.
Now, on long flights or during turbulence, sometimes the dogs stir, and Beth has had to re-situate them. Well, on Mr. Rizzi’s flight, there was a delay and an extended time on the tarmac. During which—from what I can guess, anyway—the dog got up, stretched, and was probably part way in the aisle for a bit and—for a while—not under the seat. At which point Mr. Rizzi and his guide dog were asked to leave the flight.
Which I don’t get at all. Even when they’re up, the dogs are easy to navigate around—easier than getting around, ahem, some humans. Apparently none of the passengers got it either. As in none. When Rizzi and his dog were asked to get off, all the passengers got off with him in solidarity. And the (as did he) took the airline’s offer of a bus ride to their destination instead.
Which, come to think, of it, makes for a heartening if not totally happy ending.