Travel

Air Canada sent a passenger's cats from Toronto to San Francisco and then told him to collect them

Business Insider US
Abbas Zoeb was stopped from boarding his flight from Toronto to San Francisco but his cats, Mimi and Bubba, were still sent there.
Abbas Zoeb
  • An Air Canada passenger's cats were sent from Toronto to San Francisco without him.
  • Abbas Zoeb was separated from his cats, Mimi and Bubba, for more than 15 hours.
  • He said Air Canada suggested he fly out to San Francisco to collect them himself. 
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Abbas Zoeb had checked in for his flight with Air Canada from Toronto to San Francisco on July 6 but his travel plans were scuppered after being denied boarding due to visa issues.

He had a bigger problem, however: his two cats, Mimi and Bubba, got sent to San Francisco anyway. 

Zoeb told Insider Air Canada said that "under no circumstances" would his cats fly without him, but his luggage might.

Yet after hours of waiting, he was then told the cats had indeed been sent to the US without him. 

To make matters even worse, Zoeb said Air Canada then suggested he try to get to San Francisco himself, or ask someone in the city to collect the cats for him. "I said this is absurd and I don't have anyone to collect them," he said.

Abbas's cats, Mimi and Bubba, were in a kennel for more than 15 hours.
Abbas Zoeb

Close to midnight and more than 15 hours after being separated from his pets, Zoeb was finally reunited with the two cats in Toronto airport. 

"My pets were being treated like throwaway luggage and I was in anxiety all this time since no one could tell me where they were," Zoeb said. "Once I collected my pets they were visibly tired and feeling sick. Both were sneezing."

Air Canada is no longer allowing pets to be checked into the baggage compartments where Zoeb said his cats were placed, according to an update posted on the airline's website. The airline cited "longer than usual airport delays" for the new rules that are in effect until September 12. 

Passengers who want to fly with their pets must now take them on board as hand luggage or ship them via Air Canada Cargo, the update says. The airline confirmed the policy in an email to Insider.

"I am glad they won't be taking pets in cargo anywhere because I don't want any pet parent to go through what I did," Zoeb added.

It is not the first time pets have got swept up in baggage chaos at Toronto Pearson airport.

Earlier this month, a dog was left "traumatised" after being left among lost luggage in Canada's busiest airport for about 21 hours, Insider reported. The lost dog's owner, Jena Butts, told CTV News that airport staff advised her to go home after her dog, Winston, did not arrive with her other bags.

Air Canada has faced a flurry of lost luggage complaints over the last month, with one passenger even accusing the airline of losing a bag containing her dead parents' ashes.

An Air Canada ramp agent working at Toronto airport told Insider that this summer's travel chaos was "hands down the worst" he'd seen in his six years working for the airline.

Air Canada told Insider: "The global air transport industry is currently challenged due to issues with airport capacity issues, airport-managed baggage systems and third-party providers of such services as passenger screening, customs, and air navigation. We are working hard with these partners and governments to resolve these issues as they are affecting the performance of airlines."

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