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Air Canada Pauses Flying Pets In Baggage Holds

Problem-plagued Air Canada will pause bookings for animals traveling in the baggae holds until mid-September. The moves comes as Air Canada attempts to sort out recurring delays, cancelations, and operational issues. Just how much handling animals have contributed to the problems at Air Canada the airline didn’t say, but its new policy is taking effect immediately.

Helping to streamline Air Canada’s operations

Air Canada is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons this month. Among major airlines, the Montreal-based airline is currently number one when it comes to delays. Criticisms of the airline, especially from Canadians, are at an all-time high. Recently, the airline trimmed its schedules by 15% in an effort to improve its performance and reliability.

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Also hitting the headlines are problems with luggage at Air Canada, with photos circulating on social media of piled-up luggage near baggage belts at major Canadian airports. Pets carried in the luggage holds require extra attention, taking up time and manpower – something Air Canada is short of. The temporary ban on bookings will help streamline the baggage loading and unloading process.

Ban in place until mid-September

The ban also follows an unfortunate incident reported in Canadian media where a dog was left inside a carrier box for 21 hours at Toronto Airport. However, Air Canada was not the airline flying that animal.

“Due to current airport delays, for the safety and comfort of pets, we will not be accepting new requests for pets traveling in the baggage compartment until September 12, 2022,” reads a statement from Air Canada. “All current pet bookings will be honored. This does not affect trained service animals, nor smaller pets traveling in the cabin.”

It is not immediately clear whether the pet pause is an attempt to ease operational challenges at the airline or to avoid a repeat of the recent incident in Toronto, or both.

Options remain for Air Canada pet owners, including taking small animals into the cabin and putting bigger animals on Air Canada Cargo services. Photo: Air Canada

Options remain for Air Canada pet owners

But all is not lost for animal owners needing to get an animal from A to B in Canada. Air Canada says passengers are welcome to bring their cat or small dog into the cabin, provided it is small enough to stand, turn around and lie down in its carrier under the seat. This is on the proviso the passenger lets Air Canada know in advance, and the pet remains in its closed carrier under the seat during the flight.

Air Canada Cargo also continues to carry animals subject to certain criteria. Unlike the regular ground handlers servicing everyday passenger flights, Air Canada Cargo has specialized handling facilities and equipment to get animals off and on dedicated freighters as quickly as possible. Air Canada Cargo is happy to fly cats and dogs between Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Halifax within Canada. However, this is a relatively specialised service and priced accordingly. It’s also a little more complex to organize than simply sending Fido down the baggage chute in his carrier box.

Air Canada didn’t comment on the likelihood of extending the luggage hold ban, now set to expire on September 12. But the airline did say these types of temporary bans on pets flying in baggage holds are not unusual.

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