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Agency Ruling to Provide Increased Protection to Persons with a Cat Allergy Disability when Travelling with Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet

Ottawa – June 14, 2012 – 

The Canadian Transportation Agency today issued its final decision (Decision No. 227-AT-A-2012) addressing Air Canada’s, Air Canada Jazz’s and West Jet’s accommodation of persons with a cat allergy disability.

In a preliminary decision (Decision No. 66-AT-A-2010), the Agency ruled that the three complainants were people with disabilities due to their allergy to cats in the context of air travel. The Agency then examined whether Air Canada’s, Air Canada Jazz’s and West Jet’s policies of accepting cats in aircraft cabins constituted an obstacle to the mobility of the complainants when travelling by air.

In a subsequent decision (Decision No. 430-AT-A-2011), the Agency found that the respondents’ current pet policies, as they relate to the carriage of cats in the aircraft cabin in which a person with a disability as a result of their allergy to cats is travelling, constitute an obstacle to the mobility of the applicants and persons whose allergy to cats results in a disability.

After assessing pleadings from the parties and various organizations, the Agency found that an undue obstacle exists and has now determined corrective measures for the complainants and persons with a cat allergy.

When at least 48 hours advance notification is provided by persons with a cat allergy disability, Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and West Jet must provide a five row minimum seating separation at all times between a person with a cat allergy disability and cats carried as pets in the cabin, with best efforts to do so with less than 48 hours notification. This includes during boarding and deplaning and between their seat and a washroom. All three air carriers must also develop and implement policies and procedures as well as provide necessary training to their staff to ensure the provision of the appropriate accommodation. The carriers have 45 business days from the date of the decision to comply with the Agency’s order.

Furthermore, Air Canada Jazz must provide the following corrective measures on its Dash 8-100/300 aircraft:

  • When a notification of at least 48 hours is given: ban cats carried as pets in the aircraft cabin when a person with a cat allergy disability is travelling; and,
  • When less than 48 hours notification is given: ban cats carried as pets in the aircraft cabin when no person travelling with a pet cat has already booked on that flight. If a person with a pet cat has already booked for that flight: accommodate the person with the cat allergy disability within 48 hours on the next available flight on which there is no person with a pet cat already booked. If the next available flight is beyond the 48-hour period: give priority to the person with the cat allergy disability.

The Agency has the mandate to eliminate undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities in the federal transportation network and ensures that they have equal access to transportation services and are provided with services that meet their disability-related needs.

About the Agency

The Canadian Transportation Agency is an independent administrative body of the Government of Canada. It performs two key functions within the federal transportation system:

  • As an economic regulator, the Agency makes determinations and issues authorities, licenses and permits to transportation carriers under federal jurisdiction.
  • As a quasi-judicial tribunal, the Agency, informally and through formal adjudication, resolves a range of commercial and consumer transportation-related disputes, including accessibility issues for persons with disabilities. It operates like a court when adjudicating disputes.

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Related Agency decisions:

Decision No. 66-AT-A-2010, February 25, 2010

Decision No. 430-AT-A-2011, December 15, 2011

For more travel information for persons with disabilities, consult the Take Charge of Your Travel guide.

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