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June 18, 2021

Air Canada brings small pets on board (for a price)

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

As we discussed earlier this spring, Pet Airways – a new airline set to operate pets-only flights within North America – is set to launch next month.

But Air Canada couldn’t let them hog all the spotlight, could they?

AC announced yesterday that, starting in July, it will now allow some small pets out of the plane’s cargo hold and into the cabin on flights.

Should you be so inclined, the airline will charge you $50 for domestic and $100 per animal for international flights, provided the dog or cat (or whatever else goes in a small crate) can fit in a container underneath the seat.

While pet lovers will applaud this move, if you look closely, this marks another step the airline industry has taken lately to encroach on the personal calm you pay hundreds of dollars for each flight.

Back in March, to little play in the media, WestJet and Air Canada declared they would consider following the model of overseas airlines and lift the ban on cell phone use onboard airplanes.

This makes sense for the airlines, sure. They can regulate the signal and charge massive fees for outgoing/incoming calls (a reported $5.50 / minute) and text messages, raking in wads of cash. To them, it’s a no brainer.

Only, to most passengers, this would be about as desirable as having Stevie Wonder perform your colonoscopy, and I get the feeling that bringing dogs and cats into the cabin won’t go over with the masses much better.

Supporters of the move to allow pets in the cabin will point to the promise AC has made to allow a max of just four dogs or cats on each flight. They have also said they’ll cater to any allergic needs of passengers and be quite flexible by moving the pet around if needed.

But the cynic in me says all it’s going to take is a few yippy dogs keeping passengers awake on an overnight flight to immediately slap the cute off the idea of allowing a schnauzer to ride shotgun in the plane’s cabin.

That’s where it appears AC has gone wrong on this one, anyway. Sure seems like this is a business decision more than one that will appease to the customer because – in the long run - I’m guessing this will anger more passengers than it makes happy.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...