Tony Corrao and Victoria Torres never imagined they’d end their Maine vacation stuck at the Portland International Jetport, unsure how to get themselves and their two little dogs home to Florida.

The Fort Myers couple say they were removed by two air marshals from a JetBlue flight Friday morning because the carrier for one of their dogs wouldn’t completely fit under the seat in front of them and stuck out a few inches, even though the 13-pound dog had flown to Maine 10 days earlier in the same pink carrier without problems.

“I’m in disbelief,” Torres said Friday afternoon, standing in the terminal. “I can’t believe I am going through this right now.”

Corrao and his wife said the size of the carrier had not been a problem when they flew with the dogs – Nena, a poodle-bichon frise mix, and Princess, a 9-pound Chihuahua-Shih Tzu mix.

At the Fort Myers airport on their journey to Maine, Corrao said JetBlue employees told him that the carrier for Nena was within the airline’s size specifications and the dog was allowed on the flight. Corrao said they have flown with the dogs on two other vacations without incident.

Corrao, Torres and a friend, Mayra Cuevas, paid around $1,000 for three airline tickets, plus a total of $400 in nonrefundable pet fees to bring Nena and Princess on the flights to and from Maine.


The three spent 10 days in Maine, traveling Down East to Milbridge and back to the Portland area.

But when they boarded the flight headed home Friday, Corrao could not get Nena’s carrier to fit entirely under the seat in front of him. On the way to Maine, the flight attendant had Corrao fit the carrier sideways under the seat, by his feet, and that was fine, he said.

But this time, the flight attendants told him the carrier had to be completely under the seat or Nena wouldn’t be able to fly. They moved Corrao to a different aisle with more room, but Nena’s carrier still didn’t fit. The airline then offered to put Nena in a smaller carrier, but it was too small and she wouldn’t have been able to move around, Corrao said.

Corrao, who is retired, said he was trying to cooperate with the flight attendants to find a solution when he got into a testy exchange with a supervisor, who insisted the dog carrier had to be forced all the way under the seat, or he’d have to get off the plane.

Corrao said he didn’t want to squash the soft-sided carrier too much for fear of pinning the dog. He said he then told the supervisor he didn’t want to talk to her, he wanted to talk to the other flight attendants.

That’s when the supervisor had two air marshals escort the trio from the plane, he said.


“They embarrassed me in front of an airplane full of people who just wanted to take off,” Torres said. “I never in my wildest dreams imagined this would happen.”

JetBlue’s pet policy requires that carriers be no larger than 17 inches by 12.5 inches by 8.5 inches. Pets cannot weigh more than 20 pounds and must “be able to stand up and move around the carrier with ease,” said Morgan Johnston, a JetBlue spokesman. A carrier must be stored under the seat in front of the passenger, and the pet must stay in the carrier throughout the flight.

“That’s for the pet’s safety and for egress out of the aisle in the event of an emergency,” Johnston said.

Johnston did not comment specifically on Friday’s situation.

Meanwhile, Corrao, Torres and Cuevas were trying to find a way home while their suitcases – containing the dogs’ leashes – continued on to Fort Myers without them.

Corrao was frustrated by what he sees as an inconsistent policy by JetBlue and an excessive response to their situation.


“I felt like a terrorist when they were walking me off the plane,” he said.

Torres said her frustration escalated once she was off the plane and JetBlue officials told her they didn’t have any other flights to Fort Myers on Friday. Other airlines at the jetport were booked, leaving the trio contemplating whether they should drive to Boston to get a flight home or try to find a hotel room in Maine for a Friday night during peak season.

Adding to their woe on Friday afternoon, JetBlue told them they would not be refunded for their tickets or reimbursed for the costs involved in staying another night, Torres said.

However, on Saturday a JetBlue spokesman said that the group had been refunded their money for the flight they didn’t take Friday.

Torres said the group hoped to fly out of Maine Sunday on a JetBlue flight. She said she is still concerned about whether they’ll be able to get home easily and will try to buy a slightly smaller dog carrier to use.

“All this for a dog under a seat,” Corrao said.

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