Local man sues American Airlines, claims racial discrimination

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) A Killeen man who says he was forced to find his own way home after he got kicked off an American Airlines flight is suing the airline.

A Killeen man who says he was forced to find his own way home after he got kicked off an American Airlines flight is suing the airline. (Photo by Brandon Hamilton)

On Tuesday, Dana Holcomb surrounded by family, his fraternity brothers and his attorney, Reginald McKamie, Sr., discussed details of a lawsuit filed against the airline.

“Dana was taken off an airplane so a dog could fly first-class cabin,” McKamie said.

Holcomb was on his way back in April to Austin from Las Vegas after celebrating his birthday, but had a connecting flight in Phoenix.

He says he had an allergic reaction to a support dog belonging to another passenger.

American Airlines, in a statement, says it makes accommodations for dogs

“American makes every effort to accommodate all passengers, including those traveling with and seated near service or support animals,” a statement read.

Holcomb says the passenger offered to switch seats but after no one volunteered, a flight attendant and a pilot got involved.

Holcomb says he questioned why he had to move to the back of the plane.

“At that point (workers) told him you’re going to go to the rear of the plane or get off the plane,”McKamie said.

Holcomb was taken off the plane after employees say he was confrontational, a claim he denies.

According to the lawsuit, two passengers also made sworn statements to support Holcomb’s claim.

“What American Airlines is doing is discrimination. They have repeatedly humiliated African-American citizens by throwing them off the plane, leaving them with no way home, no hotel, just throwing them off the plane,” McKamie added.

In response, American Airlines also says, “We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.”

Holcomb and his attorney want the airline to change their policies on discrimination and how passengers are treated.

“We are seeking punitive damages, contractual damages,” McKamie said.

Holcomb says he was without his luggage, medicine and had to find his own way home.

He says he stayed overnight in Phoenix before getting on another flight on Delta, not American.

Full statement from American Airlines:

“We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.

Federal regulations require American Airlines to transport service and support animals. American makes every effort to accommodate all passengers, including those traveling with and seated near service or support animals. In the case of an allergy, we work to re-seat a passenger further away from the service or support animal. If the customer is still not comfortable flying, we will re-book them on the next available flight to their destination.

If a lawsuit is filed, American will review it and respond in court when appropriate.”