Flight Canceled After Passengers Protest Ejection of Blind Man

A US Airways Express flight from Philadelphia to Long Island was canceled yesterday evening after passengers staged a protest against the crew's ejection of a blind man over a dispute concerning his guide dog.

According to ABC Action News, Albert Rizzi was told to keep his dog under the seat in front of him for the duration of the flight, per airline regulations.

Rizzi says that, after the plane was delayed on the tarmac for over an hour, Doxy got restless, and "curled up under his legs."

US Airways claims Rizzi "became disruptive and refused to comply" when a flight attendant asked "to secure his service dog at his feet," which resulted in the plane returning to the gate and Rizzi being removed.

But passenger Frank Ohlhorst remembers it differently.

"When we, the passengers, realized what was going on, we were, like, 'Why is this happening? He's not a problem. What is going on?'" he told ABC 6. "And we all kind of raised our voices and said, 'This is a real problem.' The captain came out of the cockpit and he basically asked us all to leave the aircraft."

US Airways subsequently canceled the entire flight and offered to bus passengers from Philadelphia to Islip, New York — a 3.5 hour drive away.

Rizzi, who accepted the offer, said he was "humbled" by the reaction of passengers who elected to join him.

"They could have stayed on the plane, but they chose not to," he said.

[screengrab via WPVI]