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ATLANTA (CBS Local) — The wife of a Delta Air Lines passenger with a severe cat allergy says her husband was forced to get off a plane after another passenger boarded the aircraft with two cats in separate carriers.
“You chose cats over a human life, and that’s appalling to me,” Jackie Reckline told WXIA.
Reckline, her husband Lewis and their daughter were catching a connecting flight in Atlanta headed to Oklahoma City.
She says they were on board for about six minutes when her husband’s eyes began to water and his throat became scratchy.
“My husband will go in to anaphylactic shock in the air,” she said. “It was almost a 3-hour flight. He can’t stay on board if the cats are going to be on board.”
Reckline said the carriers didn’t fit under the seat so the flight attendants cleared out an area in the front storage closet close to their seats.
Her husband got up and told the flight attendants he would have to get off the plane.
She said one of the flight attendants made a joke about his decision before takeoff, mocking him over the public address system.
“Joining us tonight are Atlanta-based flight attendants and Milo and Roxy… and then chuckles,” she said they announced.
“At the moment, it wasn’t taken seriously with any regard,” Reckline told WSB. “The flight crew was going above and beyond to accommodate the cats and not accommodate a human condition.”
Reckline said she and her daughter stayed on board and flew to Oklahoma City while he waited overnight for cat-free flight. She said Delta couldn’t get him on a flight out that night, so they booked him on a flight for the next morning and paid for his hotel.
The airline also refunded a portion of the family’s tickets and provided additional monetary compensation.
“The comfort and safety of every customer who flies Delta is our top priority and we work hard to ensure those with allergies are well taken care of,” the airline said in a statement. “We have reached out directly to this customer to better understand his and his family’s experience and apologize for the inconvenience this situation may have caused.”
A Delta spokesperson encouraged passengers to list any kind of allergies or illnesses under the “special request” section when they book tickets.
Reckline said she didn’t know.
“Someone needs to let other people know this that the onus is totally on you to put it in special requests …you just don’t know what animals are going to end up on that plane with you,” she said.