On Wednesday, Southwest Airlines apologised to a passenger after she was forcibly removed from a flight by law enforcement.
“We are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the Customer’s removal by local law enforcement officers,” a Southwest Airlines spokesman 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.”
“Southwest Airlines was built on Customer Service, and it is always our goal for all Customers to have a positive experience,” the spokesman added.
In a video, filmed by a fellow traveller, a female passenger is shown being manhandled by two law enforcement officers.
The passenger pleads with the officers, telling them that she had to take the flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles because her father is scheduled for surgery on Wednesday.
The passenger engaged in a physical struggle with the officers before being forcibly removed from the aircraft.
“Our Flight Crew made repeated attempts to explain the situation to the Customer, however, she refused to deplane and law enforcement became involved,” the airline said.
According to Southwest, the incident took place after a female passenger alerted the crew that she had what they described to be a “life-threatening pet allergy.” At the time, there was an emotional support animal and a pet on board the flight. The airline told Business Insider that in order for the passenger to continue on the flight, she needs to present a medical certification clearing her to fly.
“Our policy states that a Customer (without a medical certificate) may be denied boarding if they report a life-threatening allergic reaction and cannot travel safely with an animal onboard,” Southwest said.
In this case, the passenger could not produce the requisite medical documents.
The incident is reminiscent of the forcible removal of David Dao by law enforcement from a United Airlines jet in April. That incident helped initiate a national conversation about passenger treatment and the role law enforcement would play in the handling of uncooperative passengers.
Here’s the video of the incident:
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