At this point, the scenes from the airline-passenger meltdowns are familiar: the aggrieved and perhaps uncooperative flyer; the law enforcement officers pleading and commanding; the shocked and irritated passengers pulling out cellphones.
This time, it happened on a Southwest Airlines flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles.
A passenger was upset by two dogs on a Tuesday night flight. She claimed the animals would set off a deadly pet allergy, and she wanted them gone.
The officers who were called to remove her from the plane were accused of being too aggressive.
And, of course, the worst parts of the interaction were captured on a cellphone video that has rocketed around the world.
The video kicks in mid-confrontation. A woman screams at law enforcement officers, telling them “don’t touch me.”
At one point, she claims that her father “has surgery tomorrow. My dad has surgery.” She says that the responding officers have ripped her pants, and she needs to fix them.
Three officers plead with the woman and order her to get off the plane, which hadn’t yet departed from Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.
At several points, they tug at her, or wrap their arms around her and try to pull her down the aisle.
Maryland Transportation Authority police identified the woman as Anila Daulatzai, 46, from Baltimore.
She was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing the peace, obstructing and hindering a police officer, and resisting arrest, according to Lt. Kevin Ayd, and released on her own recognizance.
Daulatzai is a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, according to the Los Angeles Times, and had been a visiting assistant professor at Harvard University. According to her Harvard bio, she’s a socio-cultural anthropologist with research projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her research and teacher “circulate around the themes of war and humanitarianism.”
She could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to a statement by Southwest, the woman told the flight crew “that she had a life-threatening pet allergy,” but she didn’t have a medical certificate with her.
The airline’s policy is that a person traveling without such a certificate can be denied boarding “if they report a life-threatening allergic reaction and cannot travel safely with an animal on board.” One of the dogs on the plane at the time was a service animal, the airline said.
Southwest said in its statement that the flight crew tried repeatedly to explain the situation to the woman. “However, she refused to deplane and law enforcement became involved,” the statement said.
“We are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the customer’s removal by local law enforcement officers,” Southwest said. “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.”
Bill Dumas, the passenger who recorded the confrontation and posted it on YouTube, told NBC News that the woman asked for some type of injection to alleviate her allergy symptoms.
The pilot said the injection was possible off the plane, but the woman refused to exit the aircraft, Dumas said. Things escalated from there.
Dumas said he thought police were too forceful, but he also said the woman was combative.
“If you look at the police, they were being overly aggressive,” he told NBC News. “Really, she wasn’t giving them much of a choice, and the people on the plane were saying, ‘just get off the plane.’ ”
The police department referred questions about the incident to Southwest airlines, but said in a statement “when the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police receive a request from the Captain of a Southwest plane to remove a disorderly person, we respond accordingly.”
After the confrontation, the flight arrived on schedule in Southern California.
And the never-ending season of misery for air travelers and airlines continued.
In July, an airport employee punched an infant-carrying easyJet passenger in the face as tensions flared after a nightmarish 13-hour delay in France. The incident was forever immortalized in photos and videos shot outside the gate.
That same month, an unaccompanied minor was booted from an overbooked easyJet flight on his way to visit relatives in Toulouse, France, The Post’s Lindsey Bever reported. Airline officials left the 15-year-old alone at the gate as the plane took off; easyJet officials apologized and pledged to investigate.
Elsewhere, families have been booted from flights over a birthday cake and a toddler kicking a passenger’s seat. Other incidents have included racist and politically charged rants, smashed wine bottles and a passenger who tried to bite a flight attendant. Over the summer, one flight was delayed for so long that passengers trapped on the plane rationed food and, ultimately, called 911.
Earlier this year, David Dao’s removal from a United Airlines plane sparked a public-relations nightmare for the company. In that incident, a United official told passengers that they needed four people to give up their seats to accommodate off-duty crew members.
When no one volunteered, the airline randomly selected four people. Three left without incident. Dao wouldn’t budge.
In the ensuing struggle with officers, Dao fell and hit his mouth on a seat’s armrest. His lawyer said he broke his nose and lost two teeth. Dao went limp, and a video captured him bleeding from the mouth as officers dragged him off the plane.
As The Washington Post’s Lori Aratani reported, United and Dao reached a confidential settlement in April that the airline said was an “amicable resolution” to the incident. The company also said it had revised some of its internal policies to become a “better, more customer-focused airline.”
Still, United chief executive Oscar Munoz was excoriated days later at a congressional hearing.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, (R-Pa.) said that “there’s something clearly broken when passengers have been treated the way they have,” The Post reported.
Shuster warned airlines to “seize the day,” because if carriers do not reform their passenger policies, Congress will impose rules. And, he warned: “You’re not going to like it.”
This post has been updated.