A woman was pulled off a Southwest Airlines plane before take-off on Tuesday after she stated she had a life-threatening pet allergy when she learned there were animals on board.
In a video captured by another passenger, two officers can be seen trying to remove the woman from the plane after she failed to provide a certification proving her allergy. Southwest Airlines released a statement regarding the confrontation, saying their policy states that passengers without a medical certificate can be denied boarding if they "cannot travel safely with an animal" on the plane.
The airline said there was an emotional support animal and one pet on the flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles International Airport.
"Our Flight Crew made repeated attempts to explain the situation to the Customer, however, she refused to deplane and law enforcement became involved," Southwest Airlines said in its statement.
Passenger Describes Airplane Confrontation Over Allergy
The woman, who claimed to be a professor, repeatedly asked the officers what they were doing and stated they ripped her pants as she struggled to break free.
"I will walk up, don't touch me," the woman told the officers several times.
The officers who were dragging the woman repeatedly ordered her to walk as they were still holding on to her.
"We are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the customer's removal by local law enforcement officers," the airline said in a statement. "We publicly offer our apologies to this customer for her experience and we will be contacting her directly to address her concerns."
In the video, the woman can be heard saying she was on the flight because her father was having surgery the following day.
Maryland Transportation Authority Police issued a statement, saying they received a request from the plane's captain to remove a "disorderly person." The woman was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing the peace, obstructing and hindering a police officer and resisting arrest, the agency said.
She was later released from custody, according to the statement.
The man who captured the video said everyone of the plane was ready for takeoff when officers boarded. Bill Dumas said the woman was adamant that she not be removed and wanted the two animals on the plane to be taken off instead.
He said other passengers remained calm and urged the woman to cooperate with officers. A Southwest flight attendant explained the company's policy to other passengers and the crew appeared to handle the situation well, Dumas said.
The flight later departed for Los Angeles.