FAQ – Cats in Aircraft Cabins
Q1: I am an air traveler allergic to cats. What does the Canadian Transportation Agency’s decision mean for me?
The Agency ordered three carriers Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and West Jet to implement corrective measures in order to provide appropriate accommodation to persons with a cat allergy disability.
Q2: Does this mean that pet cats are now banned from flying?
No. With the exception of flights operated on Air Canada Jazz’s Dash 8-100/300, carriers must provide a five row minimum seating separation at all times between a person with a cat allergy disability and cats in the cabin, with best efforts to do so with less than 48 hours notification.
On the Dash 8-100/300, the carrier must ban cats carried as pets in the aircraft cabin when a person with a cat allergy disability is travelling and gave at least 48 hours of advance notification. When less than 48 hours of 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 have already booked for that flight: accommodate the person with the cat allergy disability within 48 hours on the next available flight. If the next available flight is beyond the 48-hour period: give priority to the person with the cat allergy disability.
Q3: I am allergic to cats and need to book a flight. How do I proceed?
This decision means that corrective measures will be implemented by Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet to provide appropriate accommodation to travellers with a cat allergy disability. The air carriers have been given 45 business days from the date of this Decision to comply with this order.
When making reservations with these air carriers, travellers should mention their disability and their need for accommodation.
Air Carriers are expected to arrange to provide the appropriate accommodation when given at least 48 hours notice. With less than 48 hours notice, they should make a reasonable effort to offer the appropriate accommodation.
You may also check their website for information.
Q4: I am a person with a service animal. Can I still take my service animal with me in the aircraft cabin?
Yes. This decision concerns only cats carried as pets in the aircraft cabin; it does not apply to service animals.
Q5: What about passengers with other allergies (not cats), does the Agency’s Decision also apply to them?
The Agency’s jurisdiction is limited to investigating only those issues which have been raised by the complainants, in this case their allergy to cats.
The Agency requested comments from the parties on expanding the scope of the investigation to include the carriage of other pets in aircraft cabins, but the carriers did not agree. Therefore, the Agency’s decision only applies to the carriage of pet cats in the aircraft cabin.
Q6: Does this decision apply to all air carriers?
No. The complaints were against Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz, and West Jet. As such, the scope of the Agency’s decision is limited to these three carriers' pet policies on the carriage of cats in aircraft cabins.
Q7: How does the Agency reach its Decisions?
In addressing complaints regarding accessibility for persons with disabilities, the Agency must decide on three points:
- Whether the person has a disability for the purposes of the Canada Transportation Act;
- Whether the person encountered an obstacle; and
- Whether the obstacle was undue.
If the obstacle is determined to be undue, the Agency will then determine what corrective measures may need to be applied.
Q8: I disagree with this Decision. What can I do about it?
Should a party disagree with an Agency decision, there are two options for contesting the decision:
- Under section 41 of the Act, a party can apply to the Federal Court of Appeal within 30 days of the issuance of an Agency decision for leave to appeal the decision on a question of law or jurisdiction; and
- Under section 40 of the Act, a party can petition the Governor in Council to vary or rescind any decision made by the Agency.
In addition, under section 32 of the Act, the Agency may review, rescind or vary any decision made by it if, in its opinion, there has been a change in the facts or circumstances pertaining to the decision since it was made.
Q9: I recently took a flight were the corrective measures ordered by the Agency were not respected. What should I do?
The carriers have 45 business days from the date of the decision to comply with the Agency’s order.
In order for the Agency to know whether it needs to become involved in resolving your dispute, you must first bring your complaint to the attention of the transportation service provider before filing a complaint with the Agency. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you may turn to the Canadian Transportation Agency.
The Agency can bring you and the service provider together informally, help you to understand each other's needs and interests, and find a solution that works for both.
Alternatively, the Agency can investigate a complaint using a formal procedure and issue a decision that can carry the same weight as a court ruling.
Q10: What if the air carriers do not comply with the Agency’s Decision?
Agency decisions and orders are enforceable, similar to a ruling of the Federal Court of Canada or a superior court of any province. In addition, the Agency has the power to administer fines, called administrative monetary penalties, to transportation service providers that do not comply with its decisions and orders.
Q11: How do I submit a complaint regarding the accessibility of the network to a person with a disability?
You may complete an on-line complaint form, or mail or fax a complaint to the Agency at:
Canadian Transportation Agency
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N9
For more information contact the Agency from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 8 pm, Eastern Time, at 1-888-222-2592
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