ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: Another passenger on Alaska Airlines has allergic reaction to pet

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Another passenger on Alaska Airlines has allergic reaction to pet
Another passenger on Alaska Airlines has allergic reaction to pet

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- One day after Alaska Airlines told ABC7 News its policy is to move pet owners to the back of the plane when another passenger is having an allergic reaction, it is backtracking, now saying it misstated the policy.

The update comes after another Bay Area resident had an allergic reaction Monday night on a cross country flight.

A Union City woman flying Alaska Airlines from San Jose to New York City had to give up her premium aisle seat during a layover in Seattle last night after a woman with a cat sat down next to her.

"Her face started swelling and she felt that tingling and her eyes started swelling up a little bit," said the woman's father, Tim, who asked that we not use his last name.

RELATED: Woman has allergic reaction to dog on plane at Oakland Airport

He spoke with ABC7 News by phone after seeing our report about another woman who had an asthma attack on an Alaska Airlines flight from Oakland to Seattle.

Alaska Airlines told ABC7 News, "If a passenger is allergic to pets, our policy is to move the pet and its owner to the back of the aircraft, which is what happened in this case."

But that policy wasn't followed in this latest incident. The passenger having the allergy attack was the one moved to the back of the plane.

"Why would you move an aisle person to a middle seat instead of moving a middle seat person to another middle seat," said Tim.

Tim says his daughter still isn't feeling well.

"She went to see a doctor to get some antihistamines to help reduce the swelling and the allergies that she's still suffering from."

Also, that Alaska Airlines won't reimburse the flight.

"It was insulting for Alaska Airlines to say here's $150, which doesn't even cover the ticket," said Tim.

In a new emailed statement to ABC7 News today, Alaska Airlines' spokesperson wrote:

"After speaking with our customer advocacy expert, I confirmed that I did misstate our policy yesterday. Our policy is to separate the two parties, which our crew did last week and in the case brought to our attention this morning. Though at times it may seem unfair, our crew's #1 priority is to care for our customer having a medical reaction as quickly as possible. We feel terrible that (the passenger) had an allergic reaction to another passenger's animal."

"They need to be cognizant of people's allergies," said Tim.

Pet owners like Anna Winthrop, whose dog Louie just flew Alaska Airlines to visit the Bay Area agree airlines should alert passengers ahead of time.

"Yeah, I think that probably wouldn't be a bad idea," said Winthrop.

Winthrop says Louie is hypoallergenic, but if he wasn't she'd have no problem moving her seat for a passenger with allergies.