Cat’s Banned From Flying in Cabin
by Elisa Black
Cats can fly - photo by Matt Niemi (Flickr)
There is currently a proposal being made in Canada that would ban small pets such as dogs, cats and rabbits from traveling in the passenger cabin of a plane. Service animals, of course, are excluded. There are heated debates on both sides of this issue.
Since this is a cat site I will refer to the pets banned as cats. Keep in mind the new regulations will affect all carry-on animals.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal released Tuesday, February 16, 2010 said that because of health risks associated with cats, they are dangerous to transport in the cabin area with their owner. The journal stresses that when the comfort of the cat and the cat owner takes priority over the health of the passengers there is a major problem. The editorial was signed by deputy editor Matthew B. Stanbrook, editor-in-chief Paul C. Hebert and pediatrician Thomas Kovesi.
The Canadian Transportation Agency will soon rule whether people with allergies should be considered as having a physical disability and this article is being timed to influence their decision. Many feel if the agency doesn't pass the ban the Canadian House of Commons should take up the issue.
Recently Dr. Stanbrook granted an interview to CBS news where he expressed sympathy for the situation but stressed the health of the passengers outweighed the cats right to travel via cabin.
Many are allergic to cats in various ways with the most common being cat dander. Both airline personnel and medical professionals agree it's dangerous for a passenger to suffer a severe reaction during a flight. Asthma and allergic reactions can be deadly without proper and prompt medical attention. Flight attendants are simply not qualified or equipped for severe cases.
The Humane Society also reports that more people are allergic to cats than to dogs. While there are many breeds of cats less sensitive to allergy sufferers, there is really no totally hypo-allergenic cat (or none in fact). More on this subject can be found at Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds.
Air Canada reversed its ban on small pets in the cabin in July of 2009. They were striving to keep up with their competition West Jet airlines which has a good many pets fly cabin. Several people now have lawsuits stating they suffered severe allergic reactions due to pets being in the cabin area.
So what happens if cats are banned? There are horror stories as to the death/illness of cats banned and forced to travel in cargo. Would cats banned from the cabin area bring a decrease of people who fly with their pets? Would people with lung/allergy/asthma problems be more likely to fly knowing non-service animals wouldn't be aboard?
This is clearly an issue that has no right or wrong answer. Perhaps it would force airlines to more strictly enforce how animals in cargo are protected. Air pressure and temperature control in the cargo area MUST be maintained to protect the cats who fly there. Physically cats are more sensitive to temperature and air pressure than dogs. Perhaps passengers who now take their cats carry-on would be more comfortable with their animals in cargo if this area was more carefully monitored.
In my research for this article I've found a happy median. A list of airlines that accept carry-on pets can be found at: Airlines that allow pets in the cabin.I applaud these airlines. Many were hit with objections when they announced pets would be allowed in the cabin area. I hope they stick to their beliefs as the responsibility on this issue is two-fold. It isn't the sole responsibility for the person who has a small pet to find out which airlines offer cabin transport. It is also the responsibility of the allergy/asthma sufferer to not use the airlines who allow cats in the cabin area.
I really have no personal opinion on this topic. I feel sympathy for both sides. I remember the "old days" when I almost had to beg to get my large dog into a hotel without a fuss. I've never flown and if faced with the above issue I believe I'd rent a car and transport my pet that way.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this issue?
Picture on Flickr site