Southwest Airlines has apologised after video emerged of a female passenger being dragged off a Los Angeles-bound flight. The passenger had reportedly told flight crew that she had a life-threatening pet allergy.
The video, which was shot on Tuesday (26 September), shows the unidentified passenger asking officers, "What are you guys doing?" as they drag her down the aisle, NBC News reported. The incident began when the woman told cabin crew that she had a severe pet allergy.
A Southwest Airlines spokesman said on Wednesday (27 September) that company policy indicates that passengers without a medical certificate may be denied boarding if they report a life-threatening allergic reaction.
"Our Flight Crew made repeated attempts to explain the situation to the Customer, however, she refused to deplane and law enforcement became involved," he said.
Fellow passenger Bill Dumas, who filmed the incident, told NBC News that the woman claimed to have a "deadly allergy" to dogs and asked that a pet and service dog be removed. He said she also requested for an injection to alleviate her symptoms when the flight crew told her they could not removed the dogs.
A flight attendant informed the woman that they needed a certificate to administer an injection but the woman did not have one. The passenger later refused when a pilot offered to let her leave the plane so an injection could be administered, Dumas said.
Dumas' first video shows two officers tugging at the woman as they try to remove her from the flight. In a second video, officers are seen pulling the woman down the aisle as she pleads to be allowed to stay.
"My dad has surgery tomorrow. I'm sorry, my dad has a surgery. What are you doing?" she says.
"C'mon, lady. Let's go," an officer says.
According to NBC news, at one point the woman accuses the officers of ripping her pants. She is told to fix them and leave the plane. When she seems to hesitate, an officer wraps his arms around her and begins to drag her down the aisle.
"Don't touch me! I'm walking!" she yells.
Various passengers can be heard telling the woman to simply get off the plane. A witness said the woman yelled various things as she was pulled off the flight.
"She like kept saying she was pregnant, and then I heard her say her father had surgery and then she said she was a professor and she needed to be in LA," 20-year-old Julia Rockett said. "She was kind of yelling random things and she knew people were recording."
The unidentified woman was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing the peace, obstructing and hindering a police officer and resisting arrest. She was taken to the Anne County Court Commissioner before being released on her own recognizance.
The flight was delayed by 45 minutes because of the incident, Rockett said.
"We are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the Customer's removal by local law enforcement officers," Southwest said. "We publicly offer our apologies to this Customer for her experience and we will be contacting her directly to address her concerns. Southwest Airlines was built on Customer Service, and it is always our goal for all Customers to have a positive experience."