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Don’t Come Fly With Me

August 24th, 2011

The Canadian Medical Association has voted in favour of banning pets from commercial airline flights, for the safety of passengers who suffer from allergies, the Toronto Star reports.

Does the presence of a dog or cat on an airplane really pose a serious concern? Representatives from Air Canada and WestJet — both of which allow small animals on their flights — have downplayed the issue. Here’s what a spokesperson from WestJet told the Star:

“Actual experience with this issue indicates that the call for an outright ban on pets in the cabin may overstate the reality of the incidence of serious allergic reactions that may be attributed to the presence of pets in airline cabins … In the past 18 months, we have flown roughly 25 million guests on over 243,000 separate flights, with 58,000 pets in the cabins of our aircraft. During that period, our flight crews have been made aware of only a handful of allergy-related incidents where pets were present in the cabin.”

Read the whole article here.

We appreciate the importance of respecting those among us who have reason not to share our love of pets. But an outright ban seems excessive, to say the least. Isn’t this the sort of issue that can be dealt with through common sense and a spirit of reasonable accommodation? The airlines, for example, stress the need for owners traveling with pets to give advance warning — and they make it a practice to re-seat passengers who have problems sitting near an animal. That seems a much more sensible way of  handling things.

Here’s what Air Canada and Westjet tell passengers about traveling with pets.

Incidentally, we also learned from this article that the Canadian Transportation Agency last year ruled that several people who are allergic to cats “should be considered disabled.” Really?

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