The pregnant woman who police dragged off of a Southwest Airlines flight in late September claims that the airline’s account of how events transpired is inaccurate.
The passenger, Anila Daulatzai, said on Good Morning America Thursday that she never said she had life-threatening allergies and that she was a victim of racial profiling.
“In fact, I said the absolute opposite. I said it’s not life-threatening at all,” Daulatzai said.
Daulatzai, who is a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, told GMA she was travelling to Los Angeles to see her elderly father who was about to have surgery. She said when she boarded the plane she asked the flight attendant how many dogs were going to be on the flight.
According to Southwest Airlines, there were two dogs on the flight, one emotional support animal, and one pet.
Because Southwest Airlines allows passengers to choose their own seats, Daulatzai said she chose a seat away from the dogs because she has an allergy.
Daulatzai said, though, that after taking a seat flight attendants and the captain continued to ask her about the 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,'” she said.
Soon after, officers from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police came on the aircraft to escort her off, Daulatzai told Good Morning America. The incident was filmed by a fellow passenger and shared online.
“I was calmly explaining that it’s not life-threatening over and over again and I even gave options that were just categorically rejected by the captain,” she said.
“So for me, it was clear, a lack of conflict resolution skills with them. There’s something that they just didn’t trust me. I was a brown woman with a hoodie,” she said.
Daulatzai was charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing the peace, obstructing and hindering the police officer, and resisting arrest.
Daulatzai claims she was subjected to racist and disparaging treatment by officers.
Daulatzai’s attorney, a civil rights lawyer named Arjun S. Sethi, told GMA they plan to contest the charges.
“She is a professor, she is a researcher, she is a scholar and we fear that when you Google her the first thing that is going to come up are these criminal charges, which we plan to contest,” Sethi said.
Southwest Airlines said the incident, which took place Sept. 26 on Flight 1525 from Baltimore to Los Angeles, started when Daulatzai told the flight crew that she had a “life-threatening pet allergy.”
According to the airline, Daulatzai brought this to their attention because there was an emotional-support dog and a pet on the flight. The airline said that for Daulatzai to remain on the flight, she would need to show a medical certificate.
“Our reports indicate the Customer stated that she had a life-threatening pet allergy, but she was unable to provide the medical certificate necessary to complete travel,” the airline said in a statement to Business Insider.
“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. Our Flight Crew made repeated attempts to explain the situation to the Customer, however, she refused to deplane and law enforcement became involved.”
You can watch the Good Morning America segment below.