United Airlines is being accused of another case of forced passenger removal.
On March 4, Donna Wiegel says she was kicked off a United flight in Baltimore that was bound for Chicago, reports the Daily Mail.
According to Wiegel, a cat was occupying a nearby seat on the plane, and she requested that the cat be relocated to another seat. "I have a lot of respiratory problems and asthma," she explained. "And cats are a trigger that I have to avoid at all costs."
As the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America notes, "Allergies to pets with fur are common, especially among people who have other allergies or asthma. In the United States, as many as three in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs. Cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies."
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While boarding, Wiegel noticed that a fellow passenger at the gate was carrying the cat, so she notified the airline staff that she needed to be seated an adequate distance from the animal, due to her allergy.
However, the passenger with the cat ended up seated only a few rows away. "I said, 'Oh, that is way too close,'" she recalled telling the flight attendants.
When staff told her to exchange seats with another passenger in the back of the plane, Wiegel initially refused. "I still balked at that and said why do I have to move? Why can't the cat move?" she explained.
But she was informed that the cat could not be moved. So Wiegel duly swapped seats with another passenger, only to be confronted by three crew members. "They said you'll have to come with us -- the crew is not comfortable having you on the flight," she alleged. "I've never been kicked off a plane, and I was just so stunned that this would happen to me."
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After being escorted from the plane, she was met by TSA agents at the gate. Airline officials explained that she was removed because they feared she would have a medical emergency on the flight.
But the stress of being removed from the aircraft ended up as badly as sitting next to the cat might have. "You know, I'm hyperventilating at this point," Wiegel said. "Almost in a full blown asthma attack."
United arranged to have her driven from the airport in Baltimore to Washington Dulles, where she was put on a United flight to Chicago five hours after her scheduled departure time.
The airline issued the following statement regarding the incident: "We're disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that doesn't measure up to their expectations. We reached out to Ms. Wiegel today to apologize and find out more about what happened. We are working with our partner on this flight, GoJet Airlines, who operated this flight, to get more details."