Pregnant woman's dog quarantined in bathroom on American Airlines flight, lawsuit says

Emotional support dog locked in bathroom during Miami-to-LA flight, woman claims

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor
Getty Images/Simba courtesy court filing

A federal lawsuit claims Avigail Diveroli's emotional support dog, Simba (Exhibit B in the complaint), was locked in the bathroom of an American Airlines flight from Miami to Los Angeles.

MIAMI - A pregnant woman is suing American Airlines, claiming a flight attendant mistreated her and quarantined her emotional support dog in the bathroom on the last leg of a flight from Miami to Los Angeles.

The federal lawsuit was filed last week in Miami.

According to the complaint, Avigail Diveroli suffers from severe anxiety and was traveling to Los Angeles with her husband and 87-year-old grandfather in the business class section of an American Airlines flight in April. Also traveling with her was her "medically necessary comfort animal," Simba, the lawsuit said.


READ LAWSUIT: Avigail Diveroli vs. American Airlines


Although Diveroli had called the airline twice before the flight to make sure her dog could travel with her in business class, one of the flight attendants noticed Simba in a kennel and told Diveroli the dog isn't allowed in the cabin, the lawsuit said.

The flight attendant continued to yell at Diveroli and her husband throughout the trip, downgrading Diveroli and moving her to a different seat mid-flight, the lawsuit said.

At one point, the lawsuit claims, the flight attendant told Diveroli that having an emotional support animal in the cabin is against Federal Aviation Administration regulations and that she would be "cuffed" when the plane landed. 

According to the lawsuit, the flight attendant also said she needed "to lock up Simba in the bathroom for the last hour of the flight."

Sure enough, the flight attendant grabbed the kennel, with Simba inside, and started slamming it with the door to the bathroom, the lawsuit alleges.

Throughout the trip, other flight attendants apologized to Diveroli, saying their colleague is a "sour apple" about animals in the cabin, the lawsuit stated.

According to the lawsuit, police escorted Diveroli off the plane before ultimately concluding that there was no crime.

"Our professional crews are there to ensure the safety and comfort of all customers," American Airlines spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello said in a statement. "In this case, the customer's dog was traveling as a pet rather than an emotional support animal or service animal. FAA regulations require pets to stay in kennels that fit under the seat. However, this kennel didn't fit under the seat. The flight crew tried to handle the situation in accordance with FAA regulations."

Coello said the type of plane -- a Boeing 777 -- that was used for the flight doesn't allow pets in the premium cabin.

"Our team at the airport in Miami offered to rebook the passenger on a later flight, but they declined and opted to take a seat with the pet in the main cabin," she said.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and damages in excess of $75,000.

Copyright 2019 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.