A Central Texas man is calling out American Airlines for booting him off a flight so a dog could sit in first class
Photo: AP

Snoop Dogg may have been prophetic when he said it was a doggy dogg world way back yonder, that is, in 1993.

A black man had to find that out the hard way earlier this year.

And it wasn’t Michael Vick this go-round.

A Central Texas man is calling out American Airlines for booting him off a flight so a dog could sit in first class.

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According to reports, Dana Holcomb is seeking damages from American and wants to change the overall discrimination policies of the global travel operator.

During a trip to Austin, Texas, from a 53rd birthday celebration in Las Vegas, Holcomb was confirmed to fly in first class on American Airlines Flight 691 after a layover in Phoenix. While on the flight, he discovered that the passenger traveling beside him was accompanied by her pet—a support dog.

Holcomb, of Killeen, Texas, said he is allergic to dogs and reportedly began to suffer signs of a reaction within minutes.

His fellow passenger tried to exchange seats with someone else in the first-class cabin but then the captain and flight crew got involved.

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The captain was captured on camera pointing in Holcomb’s face.

He was asked to move towards the back of the plane.

By the time the hound’s mother found a passenger to exchange seats with, security was called and Holcomb was escorted off the plane in Phoenix without his luggage or medication. He said he had to find his own way home

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“To be honest, it made me feel that I was less than a dog,” Holcomb said.

“Dana was taken off an airplane so a dog could fly first-class cabin,” attorney Reginald McKamie, Sr. told reporters in Texas on Tuesday while announcing the legal action, as reported by local station KWTX.

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“What American Airlines is doing is discrimination,” he said. “They have repeatedly humiliated African American citizens by throwing them off the plane, leaving them with no way home, no hotel, just throwing them off the plane.”

In April, when the story first started making the rounds, American Airlines spokesperson Curtis Blessing said Holcomb had been removed from the flight “after causing a confrontation” during the incident.

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“They were then offered a seat in the main cabin to provide additional separation and were offered a refund for the difference in their first-class fare but also declined and remained confrontational,” the initial statement said.

However, an attorney who was aboard the flight refuted the claim, KXXV reported.

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A witness, Jay Youngdahl, a Houston based attorney who said he is an executive platinum member with the airline, said he heard the captain saying Holcomb was likely to be a “danger.”

He also said before the flight took off, the captain invited the young woman into the cockpit to “have some kind of good ol’ time with the dog.”

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“On the way out I said to the captain, ‘That was a racist thing, sir,’” Youngdahl told Central News Now. He also tweeted that Holcomb’s offense was “traveling while Black” to his three followers.

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In a statement, spokesperson Joshua Freed said the company will review the lawsuit and respond in court when appropriate.

“We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us,” the statement read.

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“Regulations require American Airlines to transport service and support animals. American makes every effort to accommodate all passengers, including those traveling with and seated near service or support animals. In the case of an allergy, we work to re-seat a passenger further away from the service or support animal,” the statement continued.

Updated, Monday, 9/2/19, 9:46 p.m. EST: Lakesha Brown, American Airlines spokesperson reached out to The Root with the following statement:

Federal regulations require American Airlines to transport service and support animals. American makes every effort to accommodate all passengers, including those traveling with and seated near service or support animals. In the case of an allergy, we work to re-seat a passenger further away from the service or support animal.

Mr. Holcomb’s seat was next to a customer with an emotional support animal. In an effort to accommodate Mr. Holcomb, the customer with the emotional support animal offered to switch seats with another customer so Mr. Holcomb could remain in his seat. Mr. Holcomb wasn’t satisfied with that solution, so he was given the option of a seat further away from the service animal in the main cabin with a refund in the difference in fare, which he also declined.

After all the attempts to accommodate Mr. Holcomb were declined and he refused to comply with crew member instruction, he was removed from the plane. Our team offered to rebook Mr. Holcomb and refunded his first-class ticket. American has not received [a] lawsuit but once we do we will review it and respond in court when appropriate.