Dogs and cats in cabins? Oh my!

Air Canada’s new pets on a plane policy is bound to pit passengers against one another

090619_dogonplaneBefore leaving his home in Smithers, B.C. for Northern Ontario in 2004, Dr. Darren Jakubec felt nervous about taking his dog on the flight with him, “for reasons I can’t entirely explain.” A family doctor, Jakubec was travelling to Wawa, Ont., with his wife, a nurse, to start a six-month work contract. Leaving their black dog Sila behind wasn’t an option, he says. Sila, a black lab mix, was kenneled and placed in the plane’s cargo hold. After deplaning in Winnipeg for a connecting flight, the couple waited anxiously for their dog. When she was finally taken off the plane, they were devastated by what they saw: “Sila was brought out onto the carousel,” he says, “dead.”

Jakubec paid for an autopsy “that showed carbon monoxide poisoning as the probable cause of death,” he says. After a two-year legal battle, the case was settled out of court. Jakubec and his wife eventually made it to Wawa, where they adopted another stray dog, Beck, also a black lab mix. Though he won’t fly with a pet again, Jakubec says “if you absolutely have to, insist they’re in the cabin with you.”

In 2006, Air Canada announced that pets could no longer travel in the passenger cabin, partly due to allergy concerns. This week, they reversed that policy: as of July 1, travellers on Air Canada or Jazz flights will be able to bring some pets into the cabin with them. “We’ve had people asking for this service,” says Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick. “Pet owners are fairly ardent about their creatures.” So, for a fee of $50 per domestic flight ($100 for an international flight), customers can bring cats or small dogs in an approved carrier so long as the animal and carrier weigh no more than 22 pounds combined. The pet, which counts as a piece of carry-on luggage, must be stored under the seat in front of the owner, Fitzpatrick says, “although you can put the carrier on your lap if there’s no turbulence.” Up to four animals will be allowed in the cabin at a time. Jakubec, for one, welcomes the news as “a small step in the right direction.” But others aren’t so sure—asthma and allergy sufferers chief among them (up to 30 per cent of Canadians are affected by dog and cat allergies).

The Canadian Lung Association is calling on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health to look at the issue of pets on planes. Dr. Peter MacLeod, a semi-retired chest physician and past president of the CLA, says the air inside plane cabins is recycled through air vents, so even small amounts of allergens (like pet hair or dander) can easily spread. “If someone brings a dog or cat onto an airplane and there’s an asthmatic [on board], it can trigger a potentially fatal asthma attack,” says MacLeod. Such attacks would be very rare, he says, but “it would take just one fatal case to have this policy reversed, and it’s a shame if it comes to that.”

The airlines insist that won’t be a problem. WestJet, which has been allowing pets in passenger cabins for at least 10 years, flew more than 14 million people last year and only got “two or three complaints on the pet allergy issue,” says spokesperson Robert Palmer. (In addition to dogs and cats, WestJet also allows rabbits and birds in the cabin.) Like Air Canada, WestJet allows four animals at most in a cabin, but it’s “extraordinarily rare” to have that many animals travelling at once, Palmer says. And when there are pets on the plane, he adds, “most people don’t even know” thanks to an air filtration systems that’s “top of the line.” If passengers identify as allergic, and there’s an animal booked on the same flight, both Air Canada and WestJet will both do their best to seat passengers at different ends of the cabin or reschedule one’s flight at no extra cost.

Beyond allergy concerns, some people just don’t like the idea of sharing cramped quarters with other people’s pets. And what if the animal needs to eat, or—even worse—relieve itself? Vets recommend not feeding pets before a flight, and putting pads inside their kennels. “Most cats and dogs are used to holding it for at least a couple hours,” says Palmer.

Naturally, pet lovers heartily support Air Canada’s new policy. “As a veteran air traveller, I would find [pets] much less objectionable than some of the people who’ve sat next to me on a flight,” says Michael O’Sullivan, executive director of the Humane Society of Canada, who notes that travelling in the cabin is safer for pets, too. People with more exotic animals, though, might be out of luck. “We don’t get very many requests from people travelling with boa constrictors,” Palmer says, although WestJet will allow guinea pigs, hedgehogs and chinchillas in checked baggage. Air Canada’s cargo division has a live animal unit, says Fitzpatrick, specially trained to handle everything from “butterflies to orangoutangs going to the zoo.”




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Dogs and cats in cabins? Oh my!

  1. I have flown numerous times on WestJet with my small dog in the cabin. She has never had an "accident", barked and, as WestJet requires that her carrier be placed under the seat in front of me, most passengers never knew she was on board.

    • I have been on an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Hawaii when a cat relieved itself. The smell was horrendous and the flight was miserable. No air filtration system can handle that smell.The poor cat was upset and it was obivious from his constant meowing that it was in a great deal of distress. If an animal is not used to being caged or confined to small spaces, than it can be cruel to subject an animal to the flight; especially if it is a long haul. And yes, iI own two cats!

      • What if it was a kid that ‘relieved; themselves?

  2. Good for Air Canada! :)

    I'm allergic to perfume. If I've got someone sitting beside me on a plane who is wearing too much and overwhelming me, I don't have much of a choice do I? As for the dogs relieving themselves – can't be worse than some of the smells I've had to face on certain flights sitting near the washroom area! :(

    If a person is that picky on any flight, I suggest they pay more, and sit in business class or even better, get your own personal jet.. That's all.

    • I really hope you're not serious.
      Nobody "picks" being asthmatic, it is a serious, sometimes fatal disease. Being "picky" doesn't enter into it. That's like saying someone in a wheel chair is picky because they don't take the stairs.
      btw, I don't think business class = pet free.

      • Wheezy I am sorry to hear about your allergy, but why do you not care that this poster is allergic to perfume? Why are those who are allergic to pets the only ones who matter? I knew a lady who was so allergic to citrus so much that even ingesting airborne citrus oil particles (which is common in many products) could could put her into anaphylactic shock. Another lady who I worked with was the same way with olive products and she even was taken to the hospital from work due to this. However we don't ban citric products or olives from flights due to these obscure allergies. I don't understand why those who have pet allergies feel that their every need should be met but then they do not even care about other allergy sufferers. Personally if I was this allergic I just would not fly again as someone could come to the plane with a coat full of cat hair and I would have the same reaction. Air Canada is a business and have the right to allow pets if they want. Flying in a plane is not a necessity of life.

        • I agree 100%, you cannot avoid life…………….. I do not envy anyone with an allergy , but to think it has only been 4 years that planes have been pet free and that was only some — some airlines never stopped allowing pets so how often do you fly > let the majority rule — no one has died yet and I am sure no one will

          • Yes, let the majority rule! That would be the people with allergies probably since the airlines state that to have 3 to 4 pets on boards is highly unlikely. And since more than 30% of the population suffers from allergies this makes sense.

      • I have asthma and I have pets! And I wear perfume! studies have shown that pets actually increase immunity and build tolerance to asthma… never mind terminally il patients or the elderly who because of the love or attention of pets live longer. ! stop living in a bubble!

        • Those must be very obscure studies you are reading and while we're here it's highly unlikely that terminally ill patients or the very elderly are travelling with their pets. I don't argue that pets can be wonderful for ensuring more quality of life but that's besides the point.

      • Wheezy,

        Youre comparing yourself….an asthmatic to a disabled person in a wheelchair???
        As someone who has several family members in wheelchairs for a variety of reasons, and i take great offense to your ridiculous comparison.

        As a person with allergies (non-dander) and pets I find myself thinking that if youre going to go into a public place (even if you pay for it), you are subjected to other people's freedoms.

        As others have said, no one wants a dead dog coming out on the carousel at your local airport and no ones wants a plane to land for an emergency because of a asthmatic in crisis.

        The conclusion is that you choose to go out in public, you choose to be subjected to other people's freedoms. Thats at the bottom of a freedom/law & order society. And by that token, you choose once again to take precautions or not (allergy meds, proper dog training)

        Maybe TransPort Canada should come out with a PetsFly licence that people can apply for and get their pets evaluated in order to be permitted to go on an airplane.

    • I agree!

      I'm also allergic to perfume & not only does it ruin my flight but it makes me sick for hours afterward. I would much rather fly with someone's pet.

  3. I am very pleased that those who love their pets and want to travel with them are considered equal to those who don't like animals for whateer reason. I have not traveled with my dogs, but I have flown numerous times with those who have had their pets with them, and I have never found them a problem.

    It is about time that the rules be made for the majority and not the minority…..however politically incorrect it maybe to say so.

    • Why don't we just bring horses, goats, chickens, and cows on board next. If you can't handle traveling without your pet just don't go by plane. If you need to ship a pet then cargo (on the upper deck) is available. Why do I have a feeling this is another round of the Boomers worried about just their world…..

      • Nope, just airline companies desperate for customers as they scrape dangerously low to bankruptcy and oblivion.

      • It is this type of mentality that befuddles me. A dog (maximum 22 pounds) under the seat in front of you, in an enclosed kennel – how the hell is that anywhere near the same as a horse or cow?? Get real. I hate flying with kids on the flight. Should all kids stay home – and if the parents can’t travel without them – stay home as well?

  4. Passengers allergic to my dog!?! Well, I am allergic to many people but still have to share the same cabin with them. Hurray for pets on board! ;-)

    • Hear hear!

    • What cruel and unthoughful comments! Allergies are debilitating! (..and I adore animals) You have CHOICES how to deal with people. Grow up and look beyond your own backyard!

      • Allergy suffers can have allergies to peanuts for example. What do you suggest we do with them? What about cigarette smoke? Perfume? The dog hair on the guy next to you that left his pet at home?

  5. I'm a cat lover but would rather have my cat fly in the cargo hold. I'd hate to think I made other passengers with allergies uncomfortable. I've done this a few times and never had a problem.

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a reasonable person!

  6. I love it…soon the planes will look like a bus in a third world country…chickens, a dog, a cow… Sorry but you have to try and see a little humour in everything. I'm ok with the pet policy but then again I don't have asma or allergies. Can the airlines not find a way to deal with the recirculated air?

    • It's not a matter of the AIRLINES finding a way to deal with the recirculation of air….it's the a/c manufacturer…to date, no a/c manufacturer has been able to find a way to keep an airplane pressurized which having completely new air….hence why hepa filters are installed on most newer aircraft.

  7. why panic…a small carrier under a seat ..it should not annoy any passenger…the domestic animals are cleaner that some stinky and sweaty passengers.

    • You got that right, sista! I was stuck on a three-hour flight next to a huge bearded biker-looking type, wearing just a vest, no shirt. Ripe. Up side: I never again found tattoos to be cool.

    • That's not the point honey. We are talking about people with allergies – some of which can be deadly. You could wear a mask very easily.

  8. I am soooo happy; as a retired person I would like to spend some time in warmer climes but until now never even considered going for an extended period because of my 2 satellites (a small dog and a cat). I would not leave them in a kennel, and certainly would not put them in a cargo hold. Thank you AIR CANADA!!

  9. I have no problem with pets in the cabin infiniely preferable to smelly, noisy humans. My only concern is that due to his size, my Old English Sheep dog would be barred despite the fact that he is classified as hypo allergenic!!!

    • I agree – I have 2 small dogs- one 17 lbs. & th eother 26 lbs. (she's old & fat) & one would have to travel in cargo which I think would be horrible for them. Is there not some way that a seat could be purchased for the larger dog? Especially if they are well- behaved – what is the difference. Even if they were barkers- I'd rather listen to that than a baby bellowing & the parents screaming at it to shut up & sometimes losing it & giving it a spanking ( as if walloping a kid is going to teach him to stop crying??)

  10. In 2004 I flew 3 times between Toronto and Edmonton with a cat in the passenger cabin on AIR CANADA. At that time, they permitted this for a fee. It was only a few years later that they revoked this policy and now have re-instated it. So, why is everyone treating this like something new or different? Air Canada allowed this FOR YEARS. Westjet has allowed this for years. American Airlines, United, Delta, Continental all permit pets in cabin with similar rules to Air Canada's announcement re July 1. In fact I will be traveling on Westjet next week from Victoria to Toronto with a puppy in the cabin – a flight I would have booked on Air Canada had they permitted me to do so.

    • About 8 years ago I flew Air Canada from Toronto to Vancouver with 2 cats in a pet carrier under the seat in the cabin with no problem whatsoever, and passengers who saw my cat carrier as we were boarding were not in the least concerned. Isn't there a constant intake of fresh air into the passenger compartment?

  11. I'd love to be able to buy a seat for my 2 bullmastiffs and one bulldog, they're quiet and clean and would sleep the whole way to the UK from Canada but I have to RISK them being put in a cargo hold and I'm almost nauseous as the thought of what they have to go through to move to Europe with me. Can we modify it to allow for larger pets? please???

    • Agreed: Having read the article above citing the beloved pet dog, dead, on the luggage carousel — heart-breaking. I need to fly this summer and cannot leave my young yet largish dog home — I would pay if she could have space next to me, but she plus her kennel will not fit under any seats.

    • Agree! I have a great dane and I often fly to various places in Canada for a week at a time, always on Air Canada. I would love to bring her with me – she is probably more quiet and well-behaved than most little dogs, to be honest. I already prefer Air Canada to Westjet, but I would be a loyal customer for life if I knew that my dog could travel with me within Canada for $50, regardless of her weight. Hell, I'd ship my luggage ahead of time and take my dane with me on the plane if I had that option.

      • Definitely! My golden retriever is nicer, quieter, and has better hygene than most people, and there's no way on this green earth that I'd ship her underneath the plane. She sits with me or neither of us go.

      • Definitely! My golden retriever is nicer, quieter, and has better hygene than most people, and there's no way on this green earth that I'd ship her underneath the plane. She sits with me or neither of us go.

    • Will your big dogs fir UNDER the seat in front of you?? If not that is no different than sitting next to a fat person that takes up their seat and half of yours!

  12. As a cat lover, I have to applaud Air Canada for it's deciscion. For allergy suffers, I understand their concerns, but speaking as a person who is allergic to fragrances and cigarette smoke, I say suck it up! They don't put people who bathe in perfume/cologne or roll in the ashtray in the undercarriage!

    • Sorry Sherri, but during an asthma attack the ability to breath is reduced to almost zero. "sucking it up" is not an option.

      • Wheezy, why does it not matter if Sherri (for example) has an asthma attack due to perfumes and cigarette smoke? I know of several people who have strong reactions to both of these (and yet I have only known three people in my life with cat or dog allergies)

  13. I flew on Westjet from Ft. McMurray to Calgary about 7 years ago. It was during Christmas and there were cargo restrictions due to the increase in packages which did not allow for our dog to be put in the cargo hold. We bought an approved carrier and told the airline when we booked the flights that our dog was with us. Prior to boarding in Ft McMurray another passenger started to freak out due to a dog allergy so bad that they could die. If he had such an allergy, would they have not asked when booking their flight if there were dogs booked as well? Anyway, the only solution that Westjet would come up with was to put our dog in the cargo hold in a soft sided carrier. The passenger with the "fatal allergies" won out. Our dog was put in the cargo hold with out the ability to have a secure carrier. It was awful. I highly doubt the comments in the article that Westjet has only a few complaints over the past 10 years, and that they do everything they can to accomodate. In our case there was no attempt at accomodation. Our dog went in the cargo hold – that's all.

    • Seems reasonable to me. We either travel by car and take our two dogs or have one person stay at home with them while the others fly somewhere. Dogs don't need to fly home for Christmas or take vacations in warmer climates. People with pets need to realize that they just might have to change their lifestyle to accommodate taking care of them. People with pets also need to realize that not everybody's into their animals. Get used to it.

    • How was your dog when you got to your destination – I worry about emotional trauma – I would worry about the conditions in the cargo hold for my dog. Was there any issues/anxiety?

    • How terrible for you. I mean your dog had to be by itself in a cargo hold so someone wouldn't die. Yes it is definatly you with the hardship.

      "Prior to boarding in Ft McMurray another passenger started to freak out due to a dog allergy so bad that they could die. If he had such an allergy, would they have not asked when booking their flight if there were dogs booked as well?"

      Why should they think to ask this? It is a plane after all. In my opinion if an airline is going to allow animals in the cabins they need to warn the other passengers prior to their booking of non refundable tickets.

      I don't have a problem with limited use of this new rule, however the airlines must use strict guideline when enforcing it. It seems that the plane you were on used the correct procedure. A persons safety comes before an animal.

  14. I have been on a West Jet flight where the staff were very good about my allergies to pets and nuts. They made sure the pet on board was at the back of the plane and I was at the front and all passengers around my area were informed of my nut allergy. It would be nice if they had specific planes and flights that were pet and nut free, all would be happy then.

  15. It's sad to think that some people consider animals better then humans. I can see a prelude to the planet of the apes. I would rather have a " stinky dirty " human on the plane with me then any kind of animal. After all, we are in a confined space, and even if I love cats, I respect those who don't. It's not a question of majority or minority, it's a question of health, and we have to raelize that it's not healthy for some people..respect…respect

    • I have traveled all over the world, and I hate to say it, but the animals that I know smell much less offensive than many of the people I have had the unfortunate experience of sitting beside on flights. Basic hygiene is not as "basic" as some of us would believe, is it healthy for me to have to endure a 10 hour flight beside someone who chooses not to shower and apply deodorant? Where is the respect for other in that situation, humans should no better and choose not to, give me a cat or dog sitting next to me any day.

      • Have to agree with you. Not only do many have really bad BO, many also seem to think that cologne or perfume – sprayed top to bottom, will cover these repulsive odors. ANd what about those who travel when they are obviously sick – coughing and hacking all over the place. Most people I know who have pets that would take them on a flight keep them clean & well cared for so they are healthy. And most dogs won't have a bowel movement unless they find a perfect spot. Babies, unfortunately have no such instinct. And the smell of dirty diapers – whether they are changed or not, is in the air a long time. How appealing is that??

    • I admit, while I don't consider animals better then humans, I would prefer to be around animals then MOST humans. I am sorry that some people are allergic to pets but if they are so allergic they should drive to their destination. Flying on a plane is not a right.

      • It's definitely more a right for human beings to be on a plane than animals. People with animals can just as easily drive to their location and the pets would be much more comfortable.

  16. I am in a wheelchair and I have a service dog. He is big, lies at my feet and travels well. He is,of course, legally allowed to be with me, even when Air Canada had the no animals policy. If anybody had a problem with him, I never heard about it. Please recognize that we have no choice-our service animals must come with us.

    • I don't think anyone has a problem with service dogs. If someone did, I'm sure they'd be far too ashamed to admit it.

      • In an ideal world, that'd be true. You'd be shocked at the number of times I've had to explain, then argue, why he is with me and that he is allowed to be with me at all times.

        • that's teriible. I'd bet your service dog is a nicer person than most people.

    • I wouldn't have a problem with a service dog on a plane. However if the airline knew you were booking with the dog, I still think the onus is upon them to contact the other passengers of the plane to let them know there will be an animal on board that way they can accommodate anyone with serious allergy issues and transfer them to a different fight.

  17. A number of years ago, before AC revoked the "pets in the cabin" policy that is now being re-instated I was on a 5 hour flight to Vancouver, and by the time I arrived, I could hardly breath. I can't express how angry I was to find there was a cat 2 seats behind me. My asthma attack took 2 days to subside. Allergic/Asthmatics must be able to fly on a pet free plane. 30% of people have pet allergies; I suspect less than 30% of passengers fly with pets, so let the majority rule.

    • You know, I feel for you but since you are the asthmatic one, and the one who will end up suffering — and my good friend is athsmatic, so I know how awful and dangerous it is — don't you think the onus should be on you to ask if there are any pets on the flight, and to ensure you are seated far away from them? You can't possibly think the airline should alert all the passengers, so you need to look after yourself.

      • 100% agree. At the time it did not even occur to me that pets would be allowed to fly. I now ask every time. And if there's a pet on board usually air Canada says too bad for you. West Jet is more co-operative.

  18. My little4 legged, fluff ball, non shedding, non alergeon , (Chinese crested powder puff) will be flying with me to Calgary once again .
    Thank goodness that you've come to your senses A.C.
    I'll be booking my trip as soon as I'm finished with this comment.
    Her name is "Justice Prevails, and so it finally does once again with your reversal to allow her to fly with me.

  19. I am allergic to cats and suffer greatly in the form of an asthma attack. I do not believe cats should be aloud on flights. I have contacted Air Canada because I will be flying with them this summer and they were not accommodating in the least. They told me they would not alert me if a cat was to be on board so I could change flights. They also told me that it is not their policy to change my seat because then they would have to disturb the other passengers. So I disagree with the article when they say they will do their best to seat passengers at different ends of the cabin or reschedule one's flight at no extra cost.

    • Perhaps you should call them back & ask to speak to their supervisor to get things straightened out.
      Sometime lazy employees will say anything to get a perceived complainer off the phone. If the supervisor won't help, keep calling & asking for thier boss's name & extension. Sooner or later they will get the message. There are too many people who give up easily when someone tells them something just to make their own job easier. Keep asking for their name, & their supervisor's name……
      But just in case, bring a mask with you – maybe that would help?

  20. I love cats and dogs but my body does not! I am highly allergic to both and I react in the form of a severe asthma attack. If this occurred on an airplane, it could prove to be fatal. I am very worried about Air Canada's apparent disregard for the individual who is concerned about flying with them this summer. His/her reaction to cats is a severe asthma attack as well. Shouldn't the health safety of human beings take precedence? Are the airlines prepared to deal with a potential health crisis on board due to their pet policy? Are their masks and liquid Ventilon available on board the planes? I strongly believe that the airlines decision to allow cats and dogs are board needed to be revisited!

  21. I am an asthmatic who USED TO suffer from severe cat dander allergy. I went to an allergist and had a few shots to build up my tolerance to cat dander. I am now an owner of a cat! Why don't these people with such severe allergies HELP THEMSELVES by seeing an allergist???

    • Allergy shots unfortunately are not effective for everyone's allergies. I'm happy that your allergy has been resolved. My husband however, will stop breathing if you travel on the same plane as he with your cat.

    • I agree with your suggestion although it may not work for all. Sadly some people would prefer to not take care of their own issues and would rather have others bend over backwards for them.

      • Hellloooo! Since when did animals take precedence over human beings? Animals should only be given precedence when there are no allergies sufferers on board. Or maybe people should just buy non- allergenic pets if they can't stand being away from them. How inconsiderate people can be to other human beings.

    • 18 years of weekly allergy shots failed to reduce my cat allergy. I've seen multiple allergists, homeopaths, chiropractors and a witch doctor. My allergies are still here. Can't say I didn't try.

  22. I take my cat on board with me and have had absolutely no problem
    even on 13-14 hour flights. she imediately refuses to eat or drink (I force her to have a few drops of water now and then). as soon as the voyage starts– But she can not go beyond 14 hours so i bring a small pan and kitty liter if the trip is longer
    It seems to me that if people are allergic– as I was — it is easy–to take a treatment to build up ones own resistence–though a pain to inject the antibodies. Alternatively the place could have a separate area for people with animals or allergies.

    • Yes, a closed off area for people and their pets. Great idea!

    • is that similar to a smoking area on a plane? How's that working?

  23. Surely a compromise can be reached to satisfy both. Identified pet allowed flights would solve the problem on popular routes. Perhaps pet allowed days on less travelled routes would meet the needs of both types of passenger. Why the big deal about it?

    • There is a compromise – put your damn pet in the hold for a few hours. Animals can survive not being in contact with you for a few hours (for people with jobs that happens every day). I don't want to have to put up with the stupid lifestyle choices of other people.

      • Did you read the article? Animals don't always survive the cargo hold.

        • They also more often than not do survive the cargo hold. Recently there were reports of a pilot who died on a flight in the cock pit, should we no longer allow pilots in the cock pit?

  24. As a person with a severe allergy to cats, I find this change, and some of the comments posted here, to be a bit disturbing. People do not seem to realize that these conditions can be life threatening, not just a mild reaction. I guarantee that the people who commented on this post about "pleasing the majority" and " suck it up" had children with a severe allergy, they would quickly change their tune. People first, pets second!

    • True….when it is your own child or yourself that can't breathe because of a cat or dog issue, there is simply no compromise. My asthma, if triggered, can last for three weeks at a time. With three asthmatic sons, I would hope
      that we would be considered before someone's pet, although dear to that person. Also, an asthmatic cannot
      simply take a "pill" or injections to prevent an allergy to pets…..

  25. I am unsure if people have to pre-register their pet, or can just show up. I think there should be a cut-off for you to inform the airline you are bringing a pet, so other passengers can be made aware. I have an anaphylactic allergy to cats. I have seen small dogs on my flights several times – upon debarkation, and passengers were never notified we would be travelling with dogs. While I'm not allergic to dogs, if those had been cats it would have been a different story. I feel that I have the right to know if I will be confined in a closed air space with my allergen for several hours so I can make a decision to change my flight.

  26. I think the air lines could allow pets on perhaps the late evening flights and us poor allergy suffers can take morning flights. Then we wouldn't have to suffer the consequences of flying with their so call cute cuddly critters. I don't suffer life threatening reactions to the sweey person so that is a bogus comparison, It's the new norm. To h—with people, my pet has rights. If someone has a dog for a genuien purpose such as a seeing eye dog, I would be happy to take another plane. I am a reasonable person, pet owners do not seem to be reasonable people any more.

  27. are you allergy people for real? A cat in a carrier not much bigger then a shoe box UNDER the seat 2 rows back and you almost died — who are you trying to kid — There are people in line at the supermarkets with more freakin cat fur stuck to them then the cat it came off of and you can't avoid them — what about the cat that walks by your lawnchair on the lawn – is that a call to 911 ? you shouldn't be out in public if you are that bad – seriously that is something to be that far away to a cat whose is confined and unalbe to move –

    • It has nothing to do with "fur stuck to someone". It is being in the same enclosed space (the plane) with the animal, breathing the recirculated air for 4 or 5 hours! When someone with allergies to animals(cats in my case) enters a house or building, I know within minutes if a cat is present due to watery eyes, congestion and difficulty breathing. Don't get me wrong, I love animals, and I think cats are cool. But they do not belong on the plane with the passengers.

  28. I for one will put up as much of a fuss not to sit with animals of any sort near me. When I fly, I plan my time on board to be used for relaxing, working, reading, and eating. I do not appreciate having to be distracted by dogs barking or the smell that some animals emit during that time. If there were ever an emergency situation, I am quite confident that nobody would reach for their carry on baggage to get out of a plane as quickly as possible. I feel very strongly that passengers would clog the aisles in such a situation reaching for their pets, putting human passengers at risk. If the airlines can tell me how my book which I am not allowed to keep on empty seat next to me is a risk during landing, but an animal is not, then MAYBE I will rethink my opinion. __This is the dumbest, most inconsiderate, least respectful policy I have ever seen an airline adopt.

  29. That will never happen.

  30. Look, if you get motion sickness, you take gravol before you fly. There are all sorts of precautions people take to fly — my mother medicates herself with valium because she's so nervous.

    If you are asthmatic, start asking when you get your boarding pass if there's any pets on board. Ask to be seated far away from them. You are only buying a seat, not the whole freaking plane. The world is sorry you are asthmatic, but it isn't going to stop for you.

    AC says there will only be up to two pets allowed on any flight. Surely there's room on even the smallest plane for you to get far far away from their fur and dander, and of course, take your puffer with you.

    Sheesh.

  31. Seriously. How do you get through life? Brush fires, smog, pets, smoke — everywhere you go, there are issues for asthmatics. Take whatever it is you do to deal with those hazards, and apply it to flights from now on.

    Again, another heart felt sheesh.

    • 1. What is the cost of putting your stupid pet in a hold? Very low. What is the cost of somebody having an asthma attack on a plane where there is no medical attention? Hell this policy isn't even a good deal for the suckers that pay for their pets seat (just how close to your pet are you going to feel with them in a box stowed under your seat).

      2. A common way people get around their allergies is by AVOIDING THE THINGS THAT CAUSE THEM. Good luck on a plane.

      3. I am not allergic to pets. I think a lot of people are making that argument in part because it is not socially acceptable to intimate at all that you don't simply adore your neighbour's pets (pet people: you may not realize this, but to me you are just like those Jesus freaks). I know where they are coming from (and those with allergies have a very legitimate complaint). I think noise and smells are sufficient reason – an airline should try to maximize the comfort of its customers. That is necessarily going to pit some of us against the rest. The obvious solution is the path of least resistance – you still get your pets in the hold, we get a little more peace, quiet and avoid that urine smell (Air Canada rules state that you can't remove your pet from its box for the duration of the flight).

      4. Most of the refutations to our complaints is that "people smell on airplanes too". Now, I'd love to stow smokers or people with BO in the cargo hold myself, but I don't think I can get away with that. The fact that planes are sometimes smelly or noisy is no reason to make them even more unpleasant.

      • What is the cost of putting your pet in the hold? Well, the guy in the article we're commenting on — his dog died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Heart breaking.

        • I am sure he was able to sue for lots of money and get a new dog. I am sure if lawsuits like that continue, Air Canada will eventually make cargo holds safer. I am willing to say that I would rather have a thousand (or more) dogs die of carbon monoxide poisoning in a hold than have one human die from having an asthma attack. Animals are nice and dandy, but they are not people.

  32. I'm sorry but regardless of how stinky we humans might be my wife who is extremely allergic to cats has never come across a human who made her sick but cats- yes. She will be flat out sick for three days if she is exposed to a cat. She has to travel for her business so she is very vulnerable. It panics us to see a pet being carried through an airport.

  33. It seems surreal to me that we once had smoking on planes. It seems just as surreal that now I am going to have to put up with the yelping of some morons retard dog. Oh and one dog is bad enough, but we all know that when one starts barking the rest are soon to follow. I'm not even going to get into the barking and crap on the floor.

    Dear pet owners of Canada, screw you all to hell. I've stepped in dog crap playing soccer in the park before. I've been bitten by your poorly raised hellions. Yes your dog, personally is a perfect angel – but do you know that it would be in say, turbulence? Surrounded by dozens of people it doesn't know. Incidentally nobody's perfect angel dog ever seems that perfect, and Air Canada certainly can't do background checks for the redneck who trains his pitbulls (hideous beasts that should be euthanized on aesthetic grounds alone) to snarl at minorities.

    All because you have this deluded notion that this brainless creature is part of "your family" and has "emotions" and would just die if it spent a few hours apart from you. Thank god Air Canada isn't the only airline. If I wanted the to take a cattle car, I would take a damn cattle car.

  34. I have travelled with my small dogs to dog shows and trials. I have either gone WestJet or driven to the US and taken American Flights in order to have them in the cabin with me. Like others, I have never received a complaint; Now Air Canada is an option. I applaud them for making this change but I will likely continue to support the airlines who have been pet friendly all along.

  35. Dear Hosiertohoosier:
    1 – It can be very costly to put an animal in the hold of an aircraft or to send them on Air Canada Cargo. Air Canada is also charging people who want to carry their cat or small dog $50.00 to $100.00 to fly with their pets.
    2 – Some regional airlines do not own aircraft with pressurized holds, and therefore cannot allow animals to be put in the hold during the fall and winter months.
    3 – Sorry, but according to New Scientist magazine and newscientist.com, all animals have emotions. If you want to read about it you can go to http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19426051.30
    4 – Many people cannot avoid things that make them allergic. THEY GO TO AN ALLERGIST.
    5 – Dogs DO NOT urinate or deficate in their carriers. This is because they usually sleep and sometimes drink in them.
    6 – I have travelled with my dog in all kinds of turbulence and he has never barked or snarled at anyone.

    • leave your pet at home, or leave them with a friend, or place them in a kennel

  36. Yikes hoser, I'm sorry you've had such bad experiences with dogs…I kind of resent my service dog being called brainless tho. The long and the short is that there is always a chance that any of you will end up on a flight with a dog…because in almost every developed country in the world, service dogs are legally allowed to be in the cabin, the restaurant, the movies, the school, the hospital (except the operating room). You will recognize that they are working by the harness and/or jacket.

    Service dogs are not just 'seeing-eye'-they work for those of us in wheelchairs or with poor mobility, those who are deaf, those with epilepsy, those with autism…They are exceptionally well-trained.

    Sorry to get on my high horse-its just that this was a great opportunity to educate on our needs, our dogs, our legal rights. Unfortunately there are many folks who still don't understand the law-and I fear a backlash against those of us who need our dogs, not just against those who want their dogs with them

    No worries on cats working tho lol…no such thing exists that I've heard of.

  37. I totally disagree with having pets on board. I have a boxer and a cat but would not dream of taking them on a plane. Some people believe everyone should love their pet and put up with allergies, etc….No one has even brought up the subject of noise. What if you have a yappy dog or a cat who meows incessantly? Then what??? You can't just throw them in the cargo hold. Some people feel they can't leave them in a kennel. Well, people, pay the money and leave them in a kennel if you choose to travel or don't leave home!!!

  38. Well said! Funny how few people commenting here have no regard for human life.

  39. I have a lot of respect for seeing eye dogs, and dogs that perform useful jobs (I draw a critical distinction between people who genuinely NEED the aid of animals). However, on an airplane, service attendants (and I should hope fellow passengers) should be required to assist individuals in the position of requiring help due to vision impairments, etc. I still think the dogs should be in cargo holds (and if Air Canada has crappy cargo holds that risk killing your dog, take your business elsewhere).

    PS: my girlfriend's cat works very hard at sunning himself, and keeping birds in line by staring at them from the window.

    • Good observation on the cat lol! That explains why our cat is too busy to give me the time of day-he's working..
      I understand your point -and I think in some cases, your suggestions might work…however I can only speak to my disability-which is mobility and strength deficits due to MS. A service attendant would have to be hired to come with me ($), and what do I do with them once I get to my destination? Send them home? ($) Or hire them for the week ($)? A fellow passenger help? Yes I would ask if I dropped my fork or something but I push off the dog to get off a toilet (only bars in very specific places aid me)…and I don't really relish the idea of looking for volunteers for that job.
      The other point is-the dog is not mine to keep forever-he is worth about 10 grand after the costs of breeding, fostering and training-but he is returned to the Foundation at retirement (which totally sucks) Never would they allow him to be put into a hold.

  40. I thought people often gave their pets sleeping medication before traveling with them.

  41. Completely agree with you…some of these comments are very upsetting. What these people fail to realize is individuals with allergies did NOT CHOOSE to have allergies, however pet owners do have the choice as to whether they bring a pet with them. Why would the airlines put a person's life at risk, why would they wait for something serious to happen before they realize the potential results. If this directive continues, and pets are allowed on planes, I would hope the airlines ensure that people are given priority over animals.

    • Its all about the money and low passenger turn out. They are desperate to gain travelers right now. So much so that they will gladly put up with controversial policies.

  42. Pets should not be allowed to fly with the passangers. People have asthma and allergies and should not have to be in a confined area with pets.

  43. Why is it in todays society people cannot take responsibility for the themselves? My husband has a bad cat allergy and he always travels with his allergy medication and an inhaler, just incase. He never knows when he will cross paths with a cat and is always prepared. Never once, even when he was so sick we had to take him to the hospital did he blame the cat or the owner. It is his problem and his responsibilty to look after himself. We can't blame others and put restrictions on others for things out of their control. There are so many other things in this world that are far more inportant than putting up with a cat or dog for a couple hours. Come on people, get over it.

    • Once you are on the plane its not like you can just get off to deal with the problem and there is no notice or warning that the container under your seat has a cat in it. So no, allergy or asthma sufferers should not just have to "get over it" when there is no necessity for pets to be in the main cabin in the first place. This is a "nice to have" for pet owners, not a need to have.

  44. Pets do not belong on a plane. What's disturbing is the number of people on here who seem willing to risk the health of others for their pets. This is not a "who cares" issue people — this is about potentially life-threatening reactions. It only takes one serious or life-threating allergic reaction — one too many — for all the policies allowing pets on planes to be canned. But why risk it — better safe now than sorry later. Plus I haven't heard or read one person on here defend the rights of employees on board these planes who may have allergies. Should they just suck it up too?

  45. "Why is it in todays society people cannot take responsibility for the themselves?"

    Yes indeed. Perhaps folks should think a bit before they choose to take on a pet, and – brace yourselves – accept that not everyone wants to be in its presence. (And it goes without saying that guide dogs and the like are the exception to this.)

    Honestly, don't get one if you to travel by plane, and are unable to make arrangements for its care. Why on earth should anyone else be forced to endure your pet on a plane? And the whole "I've-been-more-annoyed-by-loudmouths-babies-etc" routine overlooks one key point. Those are human beings. Not animals. So too does the idea that the onus is on everyone else to protect themselves (in the case of those with allergies). Nonsense. I can't believe people are seriously arguing that line – in defense of frigging pets.

  46. (it's forcing me to split into multiple comments)

    It's a choice to have a pet. Like having children (but your dog is not a human, I'd remind you) such choices have benefits and drawbacks. Like possibly not being able to spend 24/7 with your animal. But I guess we really are living in a world where we are never expected to deal with the consequences of our decisions. That's the job of everyone else.

  47. I had to split my comment…

    The idea of the dog is to allow for quality of life and to experience as much as life has to offer-that includes air travel. I used to be a flight attendant with Air Canada pre-MS-in all my years of flying, I never saw an issue with a service dog.
    So we will agree to disagree, but I hope I've educated people somewhat…

  48. Snakes on a plane!

  49. Having had this experience, the allergy sufferer is offered some uncomfortable middle seat at the back of the plane as if you were the entire problem. As for the pet being kept under the seat in its container? rubbish! on one flight the cat fanciers had the cat sitting on their laps looking around and then later did a big production of bringing out the kitty litter container on their middle seat so the cat could pee – the flight attendants just walked by all this performance even after they were told the cat was not being contained and it was causing an allergic reaction. Moving the cat owner to the uncomfortable seat was never considered – the allergy sufferer became the problem instead. Put the pets in a safe area of the cargo hold or sorry, not allow them at all. And, by the way, pets are not allowed in business class on AC so if you pay enough $$ for your seat you are ok but in cattle class it can literally be a zoo.

  50. Wheezy,

    Youre comparing yourself….an asthmatic to a disabled person in a wheelchair???
    As someone who has several family members in wheelchairs for a variety of reasons, and i take great offense to your ridiculous comparison.

    As a person with allergies (non-dander) and pets I find myself thinking that if youre going to go into a public place (even if you pay for it), you are subjected to other people's freedoms.

    As others have said, no one wants a dead dog coming out on the carousel at your local airport and no ones wants a plane to land for an emergency because of a asthmatic in crisis.

    The conclusion is that you choose to go out in public, you choose to be subjected to other people's freedoms. Thats at the bottom of a freedom/law & order society. And by that token, you choose once again to take precautions or not (allergy meds, proper dog training)

    Maybe TransPort Canada should come out with a PetsFly licence that people can apply for and get their pets evaluated in order to be permitted to go on an airplane.

    • That is one of the stupidest comments I have ever read.

    • I would be less upset to hear that an animal died in the cargo hold than watching a person die infront of me. But hey, to each their own.

      "The conclusion is that you choose to go out in public, you choose to be subjected to other people's freedoms. Thats at the bottom of a freedom/law & order society. And by that token, you choose once again to take precautions or not (allergy meds, proper dog training)"

      I didn't realise our freedom of movement was also a freedom of movement with pet. I'll have to go back and check my copy of the Charter of rights and freedoms. I must have missed that paragraph.

    • So the conclusion is that you choose to smoke because you choose to be subjected to other people's freedom to smoke. You choose to stay up all night because you choose to live with a neighbor loving to have loud-noise parties every night.. And your kid allergic to peanuts? It is not our school's problem. Do you guys know freedom is above everything else?!

  51. How incredibly selfish to see the pet people posting such unsympathic, angry comments about those who suffer allergies or even worse asthma. Why would the transport of your cat or dog in the airplane cabin somehow be so much more important than a person's health? Some person should suffer breathing difficulty to accommodate your cat!? give your head a shake. As for the faulty logic that pets in the cabin is justified because other passengers wear perfume or otherwise smell – too bad the airline won't make an effort to make flights as scent free as possible for everyone's benefit but there is an easy solution to the pet problem – the cargo hold or stay at home. The only reason the airlines are reversing their policies on pets in the cabin is to make an extra buck and they will do absolutely nothing to assist the people whose health is adversely affected by animals in the cabin. Nor will the airline do anything to deal with the pet owners who will not follow the few rules set out around having your pet in the cabin. Pets at the expense of someone's health is just flat out wrong.

  52. I applaud Air Canada's move. I am sympathetic to those with allergies as I am allergic to cats and dogs, but to those who oppose the policy, I would like to point out that there is no way to have control over dog or cat hair that may adhere to pet-owning passengers' clothing. If someone is very allergic to pet hair/dander, that is probably even a bigger risk than an animal in a small carrier in the cabin.

    • Wow Jill, glad to know how "sympathetic" you are. That should help people when they go into anaphylaxic shock because of your dog or cat!

  53. Allowing pets on flights is pure self-indulgent insanity. Taking your cat or dog on a flight is a choice–being allergic to cats and dogs is not a choice. It can be a life-threatening situation. This will end up in court one day, and pets will be removed from airplanes. My only hope is that someone won't have to die, first.

  54. Hey Macleans – please take these comments back to Air Canada and Westjet so they know that this issue is controversial. Not that the airlines have been listening to anything much about client comfort lately but they should at least know that if they thought catering to the pet owners would just go by unnoticed, well, it hasn't. When someone selling a product or service blatantly decides to risk the health of any customer when there is a known risk that spells liability.

  55. From these Boeing articles:
    http://www.boeing.com/commercial/cabinair/index.h
    http://www.boeing.com/commercial/cabinair/facts.h
    It can be seen that pet dander would need to be smaller than 0.3 microns (about one hundredth of the diameter of a human hair) to circulate throughout the cabin.

    Also, the cabin has exhaust vents that exit to the hold, to equalise pressure throughout the fuselage, before the outflow air exits through a valve in the fuselage.

  56. Email Air Canada and Westjet if you want to raise your opinion on this topic – otherwise the airlines will claim that they never heard from anyone so it must be ok. I note that in one article AC claimed that being on a plane was "just like any other public place" to justify their policy on allowing pets back on board. OK what other "public" place is a crowded tube at 30,000 feet with no possiblity of exit and limited access to immediate medical assistance? Cat in a restaurant (not that this would be allowed) but you could get up and walk out or, if the asthma attack was severe, call 911 for an ambulance. Cat at Safeway (not that this would be allowed either) but you could just walk out. Cat on a train you could move to another car completely. Cat on a bus, get off at the next stop. Cat on a plane, oh well, the airline is making a few extra bucks and the cat owner is happy so who cares about anyone else and their health problem, right? The cat has to be more important than someone or their child having difficulty breathing – what kind of backward universe do some people live in.

  57. To quantify the risk of pets in the cabin, there is a study that looked at approximately 20% of all flights in the US over a 1 year period between 1996 and 1997 (when most US airlines accepted pets in the cabin at no charge):
    http://www.hf.faa.gov/docs/508/docs/cami/00_13.pd

    Although it doesn't specifically break-out pet allergic reactions from all others, there were 27 allergic reaction events with no deaths and 1 of those requiring a flight diversion over this period.

    In terms of rational analysis versus conjecture of what could or is likely to happen by allowing allergens in the cabin (pets, peanuts, perfume, etc), this report is a good place to start, if you have the time to read it (albeit this is definitely not a light read).

    • So when are the peanuts coming back on the menu or was that a proactive measure in response to the risk of allergy attacks. Or did the airlines wait until there was a significant number of severe incidents so as to have enough stats to make a decision? This would suggest that unless there is a significant number of allergy or asthma sufferers pushed to the point of an emergency then having pets in the cabin causing discomfort to passengers is meaningless as far as the airlines are concerned. Admit it, in the end this is just a chance to make a few extra bucks and adding one more unnecessary misery (or potential risk) for passengers is irrelevant. Pets do not need to be in the cabin. Their presence is ill-received by other passengers. So why, other than money and disregard, would this occur? Perhaps then we should just all wait for that asthma sufferer out there on a flight to die and then the concern won't be dismissed as "conjecture" any more.

  58. Will that be pet or non pet? I thought we went through this nonsense 10 or 20 years ago with smoking and non smoking zones in restaurants and the like.

    Back then, I did not see any posts of any sort, suggesting that non-smokers go to doctors to build up their immunity to tobacco products!

  59. Allergies aside (although a serious issue), who cleans up after the pets make a mess? Be prepared to scrape off your shoe or dry the seat of your pants when you sit in pet urine. And what about the smell? You think the flight attendants are going to scrub the carpet? You think pet owners will clean up after their pet? What will your pet eat or drink? What if your rotweiler decides to take a bite at me? This is ridiculous. I love dogs but this is absurd. Leave your pets in a kennel.

  60. Well that's a good one. I think pets should get registered by the authorities in order to board such flights. And such flights shall be told to all the other passengers of this flight. That's really not a big deal. But i am amazed how people with allergy to pets can adjust themselves with such pets.

    Anyways…..Catch me !

  61. In today's world of hyper-sensitivity towards airline security I'm surprised no-one has brought up the obvious security risks. I would argue that an angry chihuahua would be more threatening than a nail clipper. If it ever escaped from its cage….

  62. I too am one of the many animal lovers who has severe asthma attacks if exposed to any level of cat dander. The lack of empathy expresssed by those who believe their pets should take priority of a human is amazing and depressing. I wonder if peanut lovers will soon demand peanuts and take the same attitude – oh the person next to me just died — to bad, they were great peanuts! Oh Canada – where is the compassion for which our population used to be known?

  63. On a recent 8-hour long flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, a woman brought her cat into the passenger cabin. The poor animal was absolutely terrified and did not stop yowling the whole time. I explained to the Northwest agent in Amsterdam that I have a terrible allergy to cat dander and couldn't possibly sit near the animal. I was moved 15 rows forward of the woman and her cat. Still, the dander was in the air circulating in the cabin. By the time we were half way through the flight, I had developed a sinus migraine and could no longer breathe through my nose. 3 days later and I am still suffering from the migraine and congestion. I take Zyrtec daily, use my puffer when needed and I have been receiving allergy injections for about 15 years. I love being with my dog, but I respect his quality of life enough to leave him in a posh kennel , where he is very well cared for and receives lots of attention. To take him on a plane with me would be nothing but selfishness on my part. I would never subject him to the trauma of traveling on a plane, nor would I want to subject other passengers to my beloved Herman, if they happened to have allergies to dogs. What is wrong with you friggin people anyway?!

  64. Human life is more important than anything else, please. If airlines want to provide services to pet owners, they should have their planes redesigned – at least having something like the smoke free cabins. I believe that airlines should be sued if someone's health is affected by the policy.

    • 'human life is more important than anything else'

      Are you kidding me? What do you think human life depends on? Do you have any idea how fragile the human race is? Without the animals and environment you dismiss so callously we would cease to exist so I would educate yourself and think again before making such an egregious statement.

  65. Though a fair amount of research has shown that the risk of death from an asthma attack is quite low, nevertheless, as someone who suffers from allergies, the effects of exposure to animal dander extend way past the actual flight. When I am around an animal, I become ill for days following exposure to the animal. So if I'm flying for business purposes, then I will become too ill to conduct my business. If I'm flying for vacation purposes, well that's going to be a ruined vacation. It's a no win situation for the allergy sufferer which is not necessarily related to the risk of death. This is what the airlines and pet owners don't seem to get!

  66. I know… lets smoke, let the animals roam the plane, make clothing optional, and schedule food fights onboard flights as well! exciting trip guaranteed!

  67. I don't think I would ever be able to take my dog on a plane after hearing that Sad story. I think most of the luggage section in which dogs are kept are not pressurized for high altitude

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  68. The excuse of allergy sufferers is crap with pets in the cabin. These pets are confined to an enclosed kennel and placed UNDER the seat. People are either allergic to hair, salivia, or dander all of which are NOT present due to the enclosed kennel. Pet allergy suffers are far more liely to the guy sitting beside him that has a pet at jome and has traces of that pet on their person. Perfumes and smokers are no doubt the cause of far more allergies than pets in an enclosed kennel which is kept uner the seat, will ever be. I say limit the number of screaming kids on a flight!

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  70. I would rather fly with a pet in the airplane cabin anyday.  It will not spritz itself with perfume like a lot of passengers do.  I am allergic to a lot of perfume smells and chemicals and I can barely breathe after the people who feel that they need to smell pretty.  The airlines should ban the use of perfunes on airplanes like they do smoking.

  71. I just went into anaphylactic shock this week on a 5 hour flight because, unknown to me, there was a dog across the aisle from me. I love dogs and cats and all creatures, and I cannot help my allergy, but people can find pet-sitters and other ways to travel with their four legged friends. I could have died but fortunately there was a nurse on board who had some emergency meds with her (airlines won’t administer as much as a tylenol due to “liability risk”). It was a horrible experience and it feels fairly awful that a cost-benefit calculus has been made by airlines that the risk of someone like me dying from a serious allergic reaction is a worthy trade-off for making additional money from pet-owners who cannot bear to part from fluffy for a short period.

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