Air travellers and pets don’t mix: medical journal

CHRISTINA SPENCER, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

OTTAWA - Travellers who are allergic to animals should be considered to have a disability, a designation that would force airlines to accommodate their needs, the Canadian Medical Association Journal argues in an editorial today.

About 10 per cent of Canadians have animal allergies, it notes, and can suffer a reaction if confined in a space with an animal. “On an airplane, at high altitude and isolated from access to emergency medical care, the consequences can be much more dangerous,” says the editorial.

Last July, Air Canada reversed a prohibition on pets in the main airplane cabin to allow cats, birds and small dogs. But the medical team behind the CMAJ’s stance say while air is filtered efficiently in airplanes, exposure to allergens still occurs.

“Seating passengers with allergies away from pets is not a realistic alternative. Pet dander remains on seats long after the pet and its owner have gone,” the CMAJ says, citing studies of cat allergen on airline seats.

The Canadian Transportation Agency has already ruled that people with allergies to nuts should be classed as having a disability, which means airlines must accommodate them. The agency is considering whether the same designation should apply to pet-allergic passengers.

Endorsing this, the CMAJ argues “people with allergies should be able to fly without placing their health at risk and must not be prevented from travelling for fear of being confined close to a pet.

“Airlines must choose to put the needs of their human passengers first, or be forced to do so.”


Videos

Photos