Cat’s Banned From Flying in Cabin

Cat’s Banned From Flying in Cabin

by Elisa Black

Cats can fly - photo by Matt Niemi (Flickr)

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

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

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Cat's Banned From Flying in Cabin

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Mar 10, 2012 Bringing pets on board NEW
by: Anonymous

You should do a little more research and educate yourself before you make such ignorant statements. You are wrong, you must pay extra (min. $125 depending on airline) to fly cats with you. So, that makes my seat more expensive than what you paid. Peanuts are not banned either, wrong again. Try flying Delta, plenty of peanuts.

Mar 10, 2012 Bringing pets on board NEW
by: Anonymous

You should do a little more research and educate yourself before you make such ignorant statements. You are wrong, you must pay extra (min. $125 depending on airline) to fly cats with you. So, that makes my seat more expensive than what you paid. Peanuts are not banned either, wrong again. Try flying Delta, plenty of peanuts.

Jan 27, 2011 Ban Cats of course
by: Anonymous

yes, pets should be banned in airline cabins, period. I don't want cat dander, cat pee, cat feces beside my seat or under or near it for 6 to 8 hours. I paid for my seat, your cat didn't, you only paid for your own butt.
peanuts/peanut products are banned.

Feb 19, 2010 Peanuts
by: Joyce Sammons

Think of all the peanut allergies and they still allow peanuts on planes. What if someone dropped one and a child picked it up and ate it. There's always someone wanting to complain about our cats.

Feb 19, 2010 Pets should be allowed in the cabin
by: Anonymous

I'm from the UK where government regulations state that no animals (except for guide dogs) are allowed to travel in the cabin. This applies to all flights irrespective of the airline's individual policies so that people don't try to smuggle pets in their hand luggage to avoid the 6 months rabies quarantine. Since the Pet Travel Scheme was introduced quarantine is no longer necessary, but pets still have to travel as cargo.

I've read the horror stories about pets being transported as cargo, or their carriers being dumped on the conveyor belts along with luggage. So when I moved overseas from the UK and wanted to take my 17 year old cat with me, I was very worried for her. My vet reassured me that she would travel in the hold which is a temperature controlled area away from where the luggage is stored. He also advised me that sedation was a bad idea, because if there is any air-turbulence during the flight a drowsy cat couldn't steady themselves in their carrier and that's how some get injured. Another problem with sedation is that it makes it difficult for cats to regulate their body temperature which can be dangerous at high altitudes. I'm pleased to say that my cat was fine after a 5 hour flight and suffered no ill effects whatsoever. She accompanied me on 2 other international flights six months later and again I was pleased at how well she was looked after.

I know a lot of British ex-pats who've transported their pets overseas as cargo and none have experienced any problems. I recently moved back to the UK and had no qualms about my current two cats travelling as cargo.

Again, I'm just speaking from my own experience but it's my understanding that not all planes meet IATA pet transport regulations. I know that my travel dates had to be decided on getting a flight on a plane with a pressurised hold. Most airlines have a one pet in the cabin per flight regulation, so couldn't people with allergies simply choose a flight date when there are no pets on board?

I've often wondered about the medical basis for the claim that people with allergies can be adversely affected by pets in the cabin. I personally think it's a lame excuse put forward just to stop people bringing pets on board. In my experience pets are often better behaved than some kids, or passengers who've taken advantage of the drinks trolley.

I hope Canada doesn't impose a ban on pets in the cabin. This should be a decision for individual airlines to make for themselves.

Feb 19, 2010 I would check
by: Elisa Black

I would check with the airline each time to be sure cats are allowed in the cabin. Who knows when rules may change. If one airline bans carry-on pets it could go either way. Some may promote pets and others who now allow may change their policy.

Feb 19, 2010 Pets on Planes
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Thanks, Elisa, for the great article. Although I have no plans to travel with a pet anytime soon, I have relatives who travel frequently and won't fly with an airline unless their furkid is with them in the cabin. The link you provided was spot on! I bookmarked it and am sending it off to others I know who travel with pets.

I, too, have witnessed the callous treatment of animals in crates. The handlers I've seen have been totally irresponsible and the airline staff even less interested. They don't seem to "get it" when it comes to transporting animals. How many horror stories have we read/seen about animals freezing in the cargo hold? We can only hope that airlines continue to recognize that animals have rights too and will continue to provide for them.

Feb 19, 2010 Flying Cats
by: Merrily

Over the years I have had many cats and dogs fly coast to coast in the cargo hold of a plane.
Whenever I schedule an animal to fly , the stress begins since I have heard way too many horror stories.

I have some stories of my own such as the time I watched my new puppy being off loaded from a plane. His crate was put on the luggage carrier and then all of the other passengers luggage was thrown on top of his crate. I watched in horror as each bag was thrown on top, what if the crate collapsed? Surely with each bag that landed on top of the crate my puppy must have been terrified. Then when I went to the luggage department to pick him up, I was told he was not on the plane. I explained that I saw him being taken off the plane, and no one seemed concerned. he was found two hours later his crate sitting by the exit door on the floor, anyone could have reached down and picked up his carrier on the way out of the building.

On another flight I had a kitten who was to fly from Seattle to Los Angeles, and they forgot to put her on the plane twice, I spent the entire night waiting at the airport. No one seemed concerned except me.

Many breeders will no longer ship animals in the cargo hold, for good reason. If we choose to buy from these breeders we have to fly to pick up the kitten and carry it in the plane.

Flying animals in the US is big business, and airlines will have to make a choice, either way I am sure it will affect their bottom line.

After the experiences that I have had, I am looking at breeders that are only a couple of states away so I can drive and pick up a cat rather than take any more chances. The new Pet Airways may be our only option in the future.

Feb 19, 2010 Informative
by: Michael

Thanks, Elisa, for another informative post. Does this apply to internal flights in North America? International flights are different as I understand it when the cat goes in the hold. Although there may be exceptions.

Michael Avatar

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