Woman Forcibly Removed From Airplane Reignites Support Animals Versus Allergy Debate

I have been asked to report on the incident which involved a woman who was forcibly removed from an airplane operated by Southwest Airlines — and we may never know exactly what actually happened depending on the account with which is believed.

Woman Forcibly Removed From Airplane Reignites Support Animals Versus Allergy Debate

Before going any further, everyone can agree that according to this video from Bill Dumas and used with written permission from Storyful

…Anila Daulatzai was forcibly removed by law enforcement officers of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police from an airplane operated by Southwest Airlines despite resisting them and repeatedly asking in exasperation “What are you doing?!?”

The socio-cultural anthropologist at the Maryland Institute of Art also complained of her pants being ripped, resulting in the police officers giving her a momentary reprieve for her to fix the problem.

She also tried to explain the importance of remaining aboard the aircraft: “My dad has surgery tomorrow; I’m sorry; my dad has a surgery” the day after the flight from Baltimore was to conclude in Los Angeles.

Passengers generally appeared to be unsympathetic with her plight, as they wanted to depart for Los Angeles as soon as possible and not be delayed. After Daulatzai shouts that “I’m trying” to leave the aircraft, one passenger immediately says “Not trying.”

“Don’t touch me!” she repeatedly demanded. After being ordered to walk but complaining that she could not because she was being physically held by one police officer, he appeared to release his grasp on her — only to shove her forward when she did not seem to move forward on her own immediately afterwards.

What Caused This Situation to Occur?

According to reports from numerous sources, Daulatzai complained that she was allergic to two animals — an emotional support dog and a pet — and that her allergy was “life-threatening”…

…but in this exclusive interview with Stephanie Ramos of ABC News

…Daulatzai — who has been pregnant for at least two months — claimed that she was “humiliated and emotionally scarred” when she was forcibly removed from the airplane; and that on the contrary, her allergy was “not life-threatening at all” and never said that she could die if she was seated near dogs.

“When I boarded the plane, the first thing I asked the flight attendant was how many dogs were gonna be on this plane,” Daulatzai said before finding a seat far enough away from the animals to ensure that she would not suffer from an allergic reaction.

If that is the actual and accurate account of what happened aboard that airplane, the matter should have ended right there…

Where This Story Gets Fuzzy

…but Daulatzai alleged that members of the flight crew and captain continued to ask her about her allergy. “He started by saying ‘I’m uncomfortable with you on the plane.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m a primary caretaker for my father. I need to be there and I really ask you to reconsider.’”

Despite her assertion that she kept repeatedly stating to the captain of the aircraft in a cam manner that her allergy was not life-threatening — and even supposedly offered options to resolve the issue which were allegedly rejected by the captain — she found herself forcibly removed from the airplane by law enforcement officers.

Daulatzai — who is Muslim — claims that she was subjected to “racist and disparaging treatment” by the law enforcement officers. “So for me it was clear…um…a lack of…um…conflict resolution skills with them. There’s something that they just didn’t trust me. I was a brown woman with a hoodie.”

Ultimately charged with disorderly conduct; failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order; disturbing the peace; obstructing and hindering a police officer; and resisting arrest, Daulatzai retained an attorney and intends to sue Southwest Airlines.

The Point of View From Southwest Airlines

Reports from multiple sources — including the aforementioned video from ABC News — state that Daulatzai was unable to provide a medical certificate pertaining to her allergy to employees of Southwest Airlines, which was necessary to complete travel…

…but no mention of the requirement of a medical certificate appears anywhere at the official Internet web site of Southwest Airlines pertaining to customers with allergies:

If a Customer is severely affected by allergies to an animal and notifies us of his/her allergy at the departure gate, we can ensure that the Customer with the allergy is seated as far away from the animal as possible.

Southwest is required by law to transport assistance and emotional support animals accompanying Customers with disabilities. Southwest requires that pets remain in an animal carrier throughout the duration of a flight. However, we cannot make such a requirement for assistance and emotional support animals. We also cannot require that Customers traveling with service animals provide advance notice of their intent to transport the animal. As such, we’re unable to provide advance notification if any animals will be traveling on a particular flight.

That statement is correct: apparently, all that employees of an airline — whether aboard an airplane or in a lounge at an airport — could lawfully do is ask two questions: is the dog a service animal required because of a disability; and what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Members of the flight crew claim that they repeatedly attempted to explain the situation to Daulatzai after understanding that her allergy was sever enough to be potentially life-threatening, according to reports of Southwest Airlines — but she refused to leave the airplane peacefully and on her own accord.

Summary

Commenting definitively on this issue is difficult for me to do because I either do not have all of the facts; or conflicting information exists — so please allow me to break it down with isolated thoughts:

A communication problem may be the source of the angst which led to this situation, which unnecessarily was blown out of proportion. One might argue that Daulatzai may have been trying to use the allergy as a way of getting special treatment from members of the flight crew — but I do not necessarily believe that because she was seated near the last row at the rear of the aircraft, as indicated in the first video.

Could Daulatzai have said that she does not have a severe allergy — and perhaps the member of the flight crew did not catch the operative word not and thereby misinterpreted her statement? Perhaps Daulatzai did not emphasize the word not enough when asking about animals aboard the airplane? Either scenario is certainly possible — especially if there are other ambient noises aboard the aircraft or in the airport.

Were members of the flight crew being overly cautious? I do not think so. Transporting a person with an allergy severe enough that the person could possibly die during a flight is an experience nobody wants to go through.

Did Daulatzai overreact in this incident? That is indeed quite possible — especially when going through the stress of her elderly father about to undergo surgery, which certainly had her concerned if not worried.

Could members of the flight crew have been biased? That possibility always exists; but I cannot imagine why Daulatzai would be singled out for no reason. She seems to otherwise be someone who does not appear to be a threat. I certainly would have no qualms or second thoughts about traveling with her aboard an airplane.

Even though this incident occurred on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, I still do not believe that all of the facts have been revealed — or, at least, I do not believe that any of the conflicting statements have yet to be proven and resolved in favor of one over another.

It’s a real conundrum, because if you disclose they can throw you off”, said Lianne Mandelbaum — who is the founder of The No Nut Traveler and questions whether or not the privacy of allergy sufferers is being abused by airlines — “but if you don’t you can’t get accommodations and may have a reaction mid-air.

I have not seen any reports confirming that one passenger paid for transporting his or her pet and that the other was traveling with a legitimate emotional support animal — from what I understand, neither animal was classified as an actual service dog — but I will say that the abuse of passengers passing pets off as emotional support animals does not exactly help with resolving this issue.

Support animals versus passengers with allergies aboard airplanes has been a contentious and controversial issue for years with little to no resolution in sight — and that needs to change. As with legitimate service dogs, an official certification process needs to be implemented for people who need to travel with emotional support animals. I believe that would help reduce the number of beloved pets fraudulently being passed off as emotional support animals.

Even though airlines cannot definitively guarantee that an airplane is completely free of allergens, perhaps an improved process needs to be in effect to better arrange the seating of passengers so that as few problems as possible could occur — although that would be impossible to implement with 100 percent efficacy.

Finally, civil cooperation amongst passengers with each other would help to avoid many of these problems from occurring in the first place — and that is not just limited to passengers with allergies versus passengers transporting animals.

Source: Bill Dumas via Storyful.

18 thoughts on “Woman Forcibly Removed From Airplane Reignites Support Animals Versus Allergy Debate”

  1. Lauren says:

    There is no official certification process for service dogs. There are some organizations that have their own certification standard, but all that’s legally required of a service dog is that it be trained to physically help someone with a disability and to behave in public. Many people train their own physical assistance service dogs. I did, because I cannot afford the $15k price of a “legitimate” service dog (organizations do help you fund raise, but that process can take months to years). Amusingly, I’ve had people tell me they could tell he was an “official” service dog because of his behavior and couldn’t believe he was home trained. He’s never been officially trained and tested, but he still meets the legal definition of a service dog.

    ESAs actually do require a letter from a doctor or mental health provider dated within one year to travel. Those certificates you buy online don’t count; you might as well just forge a letter yourself. The penalty for doing so is severe, but few airlines train their people to spot fakes so most get away with it.

    Honestly, I think they should just reserve a few rows in the plane for people with common allergies. If you sit there you can’t have any animals or nuts. Problem solved.

    I wouldn’t object to an official public access test for service dogs and ESAs, as long as the cost was not excessive and accessing the test wasn’t extremely difficult (meaning, people in rural areas shouldn’t have to drive to a major city for it).

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      At least one airline keeps the bulkhead row of the economy class cabin open for those passengers who are disabled, Lauren — and when the seats are still open immediately prior to the time of departure, those seats are then filled with able-bodied passengers. I know of this from personal experience.

      Although I initially believe that your suggestion has merit, the problem is which few rows should be reserved? Not the first few rows, because many airlines have installed economy plus seats with slightly extra leg room there; not the back few rows at the rear of the aircraft, because that is right near the rear galley where food is prepared; not the exit rows for safety reasons; and what if a few rows were reserved in the middle of an airplane only to have the very next row occupied by people traveling with pets and peanuts — similar to the days when people seated in non-smoking rows aboard an airplane breathed the smoke from smokers seated in the row in front of them?

      I never realized how expensive is obtaining a trained service dog — as well as how long a person must wait for one. Thank you for imparting that information.

    2. Jenny Harp says:

      Google. Public Access Test. After that women (not this lady) went off in the restaurant about a service dog being present (she truly went wild) I Called the ADA directly and spoke to a what they called a specialist. I explained the reason for the call. I related Dukes training and behaviour. He said you’re fine

  2. oenonono says:

    I’m an allergy sufferer with beloved emotional support animals. It’s not good for me via my allergies, but it’s important to me emotionally and an allergy is not an absolute. There’s differing severity and the kind and size of the animal and medication mediate the effects. Still, I have rashes every day. And if I get around a couple of labs or some cats I’m done for the day at least. I really know the misery. Not to mention how unhealthy it is to subject your body to an allergic reaction. Still, the last thing I want is for it to be harder to travel with even “just pets”! The problem is that with cost cutting and standardizing, planes don’t accommodate diverse needs well. People travelling with small children or pets among many other perfectly normal, everyday people are a bother to other passengers and the airline, but what’s the other option for many kinds of travel needs??? Wish we could change this conversation to a productive one about how to accommodate BOTH those with animals and those with medical needs better than we do.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I never once for the life of me thought about passengers who both have allergies and travel with emotional support animals, oenonono.

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and point of view from what seems to be a unique perspective. I am inclined to believe that you would be best suited to think of the ideal solution to this conundrum with your experiences.

  3. Mike says:

    The passenger is 100% wrong for what ever reason she was asked to disembark from the flight and she refused she is breaking the law. She should have simply listened to what she was told then flight attended would not have to call security. Once security comes on to the plane its game on if you refuse to get off at your free will you MUST be dragged off. She was clearly fighting to stay on the plane after bening told to disembark. She 100% need to pay her charges for breaking the rules. If she did not agree with the flight attendants she should have walked off herself and filled her complaint just as all the passengers told her to do. She should be grateful she was only dragged off the flight, if she was on the street and she disobeyed law enforcement she could have been shot dead!! What gives anyone the right to stop obeying law enforcement just because your on a plane? Oh and your comments about service & ESA is totally wrong. There is no officially certification and they are considered a medical device not pets which does not require a payment for a medical devicee to be on the plane. If that is the case we would need to start charging people in wheelchairs or those crutches, its not going to happen.

    1. MissaLeigh says:

      Wrong, she said ESA’s need and have proof. It’s not a certificate but a written letter from a professional therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist. And yes you SHOULD need one to bring your pet on as an ESA, stupid fakes abusing the system. It’s like when you live in a apartment that doesn’t allow pets, YOUR DOCTOR needs to be faxed forms and filled out and faxed back for them to accept your pets as ESA, without a proper doctor’s note from a licensed professional, your animals are NOT considered ESA’s. Oh and believe me, I know I have two and live in apartments that do not accept pets. So you’re plain uniformed or just stupid. Especially with your comment about being shot dead outside just for not obeying an officer, an officer should NEVER discharge his firearm unless he feels he’s in a threatening situation, not just because someone isn’t “obeying”. They have things like OC spray and stun guns for the belligerent. Stupidest thing i’ve ever heard.

  4. Terry says:

    Moslems thinks digs are a filthy animal,thats why she was a stupid cunt!my dad was moslem,but he wasnt ignorant!we had dogs & he loved them!their are too many wanna be moslems who only use parts of there belief too accamadate them!she was beieng an ambulance chaser!my father was also in the lions club & what do they do?help blind people,seeing eye dogs!!wake up America!quit catering too liberism even liberal moslems!!!

  5. James says:

    Curious. What if my ESA is not a dog, but a king cobra, for example…. or a tarantula spider. As with dog as an ESA neither the snake not spider should be in a cage or special container. The law demands equal treatment. I wonder what the airline might say…..

    1. linda says:

      James, the airline rules only permit dogs (or cats in some instances). No gerbils, rabbits, snakes, chameleon type lizards etc.
      But, your example is interesting.

  6. Jenny says:

    I have a services dog and alleigiant airline does require you to check box, if your bringing a service dog or bring a pet when you are making your reservation. They try to put all animals in one area if possible. Now if you reserve your seat, you may end up by a animal, but not common. Sept 22 2017 I sat in my seat and the lady next to me said she had allergies of dogs and cats. I got up and told the stuartist and said I will be more then happy to move to the end of plane. The lady had reserved her seat which was about the 7th row from front, I didn’t want her to have to move on my behalf. When I got back to seat, which I stood so my dog was not next to her, she explained that she didn’t finish telling me when I jumped up so she wouldn’t have a reaction that she took a allergy pill and was fine with my dog who lays on floor the whole way. Awe how nice of her! The stewardess came up and told her theu can move her to another seat and I explained I would move for I had my dog. She was very kind and explained she took allergy pill and was fine around my dog. She travels all the time and a allergy pill for animals is all she has to take. She’s never had a problem once she takes it, and since my dog wasn’t going to be all over me and acting up ( my is trained service which they behave) or jumping on her she was fine and loves dogs. Not once did I see her have any reaction and as we landed I asked if she was fine. She said she was great with no problem and I thanked her many times

  7. Carolyn says:

    I saw the video and watched the news report and feel that the passenger, Anila Daulatzai, exacerbated the situation. She was portraying a victim from the onset. When she was approached by the police officers, she could have calmly got up and followed them without creating a scene. But no, she caused delays and anxiety amongst the other passengers because she is selfish and has the, “It’s all about me attitude”. Well guess what, there are things in life that we all must endure and you are educated enough to know that in the real world, things don’t evolve around you. I feel bad for MD police who had to embark on this embarrassment. Grow up girl and think about others besides yourself.

  8. James Lopez says:

    This woman said she was important…..a professor ! She could stock the shelves in Walmart all we care.
    Also she seems to not be assimilated into American society ? Or maybe she has learned to get a hand out from others.
    All LEGAL immigration should be in proportion and keeping up with the assimilation of the person to American society.

  9. K Huffman says:

    Stupid racist piece of slime Muslim trouble making psycho bitch. Looks like that skank wants a lawsuit, and will throw her Muslim evil psycho attitude in it and exaggerate her fake act. She had every right to get dragged off. How unclasdy and embarrassing. No wonder Muslims have a bad rap. People like that suck and ruin the world.

  10. Kendrick Lamar says:

    This woman is 100% insane. It’s a tragedy law abiding Citizens in this country have to be subjected to such a hateful person. She obviously has low self esteem and habitually plays the victim and race card. #whatswrongwithamerica

  11. Mike says:

    Has anyone even seen any medical evdiance that she is truly allergic? I’m sure that was a complete lie and she not even allergic she just was to try to have the dogs kicked off because she is a dog hater but not allergic. Who in their right mind having an allergy to dogs would not ALWAYS carry an EpiPen? Today’s world there are dogs everywhere you go if she was really allergic to dogs she 100% would be carrying an EpiPen!!!

  12. Mike says:

    Has anyone even seen any medical evdiance that she is truly allergic or is she just a bold face liar? I’m sure she not allergic to dogs at all she just a dog hater that thought she is better then everyone abd could have the dogs removed. Who in their right who is truly alergic to dogs would not ALWAYS carry an EpiPen? Today’s world there are dogs everywhere you go if she was really allergic to dogs she 100% would be carrying an EpiPen!!!

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