BALTIMORE - In an incident that was captured on video, a Maryland woman is facing several charges after she was forcibly removed from a Southwest Airlines flight that was set to leave from Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The woman, who has been identified as 46-year-old Anila Daulatzia, of Baltimore, was trying to get to Los Angeles to see her father who was set to have surgery the following day.
Daulatzai was arrested by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police and has been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
With two dogs on board the plane, the woman stated to the flight crew that she was severely allergic to animals. However, since she could not provide the medical documentation required to allow her to travel, the crew asked the woman to leave the plane due to airline policy.
She refused to get off and police were called in to remove her from the plane.
"I think it got to the point where she was willing to fly, take her chances, and then the airline said not knowing that you are going to have an allergic outbreak in the air and we have to divert to another airport, we can't take that chance and that is their protocol," said Bill Dumas, the man who recorded the video. "They were saying, 'You have to walk off the plane, you have to walk off the plane,' and she would say, 'I am walking off the plane.' But as she is saying, 'I am walking off the plane,' she is fighting against them. She was definitely fighting against the police."
Southwest Airlines said in a statement about the incident:
We are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the Customer's removal by local law enforcement officers. 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.
Initial reports indicate the Customer in the video stated that she had a life-threatening pet allergy, but she was unable to provide the medical certificate necessary to complete travel. There was one emotional support animal and one pet onboard the aircraft. 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.
The video of the incident was one of the top trending videos on social media and raised questions about why the woman refused to comply with authorities along with the officers' actions.
Paul Hudson with FlyersRights.org said there is no need for a situation to come to this where someone may end up getting hurt.
"There is really no need for an airline to use force to take someone off in this kind of situation," Hudson said. "They could have evacuated the plane, taken everyone off and isolated this person or dogs or whatever was appropriate in the terminal and then re-board people."
But as a passenger, you have to be careful as well. Under the Patriot Act, it is a federal felony to interfere with a flight crew.
In the video, the woman refers to herself as a professor. On a website for the Maryland Institute College of Art, Daulatzia is listed as a staff member who is a sociology economic anthropologist focusing on violence and humanitarianism.