First Class Traveller Outraged After Losing ‘Paid For’ Seat To A Dog

Joe Diianni's first-class seat had been reassigned to accommodate another passenger... who happened to be of the four-legged variety.

First Class Traveller Outraged After Losing ‘Paid For’ Seat To A Dog

Image: DMARGE/Twitter

We’ve heard plenty of stories of passengers getting kicked out of their first-class seats for ‘terrible’ reasons and wholly legitimate ones — like threatening cabin crew over food choice — but few have divided the internet quite as fiercely as this one.

American Airlines passenger Joe Diianni arrived at the Charlotte airport only to be informed that his first-class seat had been reassigned to accommodate another passenger… who happened to be of the four-legged variety.

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The online debate was sparked, however, after Diianni took to social media to express his outrage and revealed in the process that the animal that had caused him this frustration was, in fact, a service dog. Taking to Twitter, Diianni went after the airline saying this, alongside a photo of the service dog occupying the seat, adorned with a red “service animal” vest:

American Airlines were quick to respond to his post, acknowledging the complaint and pledging to investigate the matter. However, the airline also made it clear that specific seat assignments were not guaranteed, which proved to only throw fuel on Diiani’s fire…

Our friends at Live And Lets Fly do a better job at explaining why the seat switch might have taken place than I ever could. The first possibility has to do with connecting flights…

“AA’s system aggressively ‘anticipates’ missed connections. The system may have thought he was not going to make the flight and the issue may have little to do with the dog.”

Matthew Klint

The second option, however, seems a lot more plausible:

“Since it appears he was accommodated in a different first class seat rather than downgraded to economy class, the more likely explanation is that he was moved so that the dog could be placed in a bulkhead window seat. Dogs are often placed in window seats so that they do not block the egress of other passengers.”

Matthew Klint

The event has divided people online for a number of reasons. Some feel that Diianni is being entitled and insensitive, not recognising the accessiblity needs of the other passenger that are flagged by the presence of the dog. Others have pointed out that this kind of vest is freely available for a mere US$20 on Amazon and could, therefore, be a cheap ploy to get an upgrade at the expense of paying customers…

Others, however, focus more closely on the airline itself and their approach to customer service. Regardless of the service dog’s questionable pedigree, many suggest that the airline should have asked for volunteers to give up their seat rather than forcing Diianni’s hand.

Whichever side of this heated debate you find yourself leaning towards, the greatest comment of the day has to go to Gary Leff over at View From The Wing: “It’s a dog-seat-dog world.”