Air Canada ordered to ensure 5-row buffer zone between dogs, allergy sufferers
The Canadian Transportation Agency has ordered Air Canada to do more to keep passengers with dog allergies away from travelling canines.
The ruling, issued last week, comes after a passenger filed a complaint against Air Canada regarding its policy that allows the carriage of dogs in aircraft cabins.
The CTA ruled in favour of Marley Greenglass, who suffers from dog allergies, calling Air Canada’s pet policy an “undue obstacle to the mobility” of travellers with a “dog allergy disability.”
The Agency ordered Air Canada to ensure a minimum of a five-row buffer zone between passengers with such allergies and canines travelling in the main cabinet while in a carrier. That includes guaranteeing a separation during boarding, deplaning and washroom access.
The ruling applies so long as passengers with allergies give 48 hours’ advance notice of travel and applies to planes using HEPA filters, which are equipped to provide 100 per cent uncirculated fresh air. The decision also applies to service dogs.
On Air Canada planes without a HEPA ventilation system, pet dogs will be banned from aircraft cabins whenever a passenger with an allergy is onboard. In the case of service dogs on such planes, priority will be given first to whoever completed booking their ticket.
A similar ruling was issued last summer when the CTA ordered Air Canada, WestJet Airlines and Air Canada Jazz to ensure a five-row minimum separation distance between customers allergic to cats and travelling felines.
The final ruling came after three passengers – Katherine Covell, Sarah Daviau and Dr. David Spence – first issued a complaint in 2009 that the airlines were putting their health at risk.
According to Dr. Gordon Sussman, an expert on allergies and the principal advisor to the CTA, dog allergies are much less common than cat allergies.