Every pet owner that flies with their pet spends the entire flight worrying about their beloved companion stowed away in the cargo space underneath their feet. Does he have enough water? Is he scared? Is he adjusting alright? Is he panicking? Most don’t worry about the dog overheating though, but that’s exactly what caused one pet-loving pilot to divert his plane Sunday, September 13th.
An Air Canada pilot is being praised for diverting the Tel Aviv-to-Toronto flight from Germany in order to save the life of a passenger’s French bulldog. His decision came after the plane’s heating system malfunctioned in the cargo area of the jet. He noticed the issue just as the plane was getting ready to begin its journey across the Atlantic Ocean on the way to Canada.
Temperatures at high altitudes drop to dangerously low levels that could endanger the lives of humans and animals without heat. The heating system in the cargo area was not working at all, so the pilot decided to divert Air Canada Flight 85 to minimize the risk to the dog, Simba, as much as possible. The pilot has not been identified, but he is being hailed as Simba’s hero.
He had the canine pulled from the cargo hold and placed on another Toronto-bound Air Canada flight when the plane landed in Frankfurt, Germany. Thankfully, there was no harm done to 7-year-old Simba. Air Canada spokesman John Reber said in a statement:
“After takeoff the pilot got an indicator that one of the cargo hold heaters had malfunctioned and that the temperature was falling, as it is very cold at the high altitude where our planes fly…While a heater is not normally a critical component, on this particular flight there was a live animal in the hold.”
The airline added that their pilots are all professionals who are responsible for everyone on their flight; furry passengers included. They said that with the altitude the situation would certainly have become extremely uncomfortable and may have even been life threatening to the dog if the flight had continued across the ocean. Phyl Durby, an aviation expert, speculated that the diversion cost Air Canada thousands of dollars in fuel costs.
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Frankfurt was a good choice by the pilot, as there are multiple Air Canada flights to Canada each day and they turn aircrafts out very quickly as well. The plane was only on the ground for about an hour. They only ended up arriving to Toronto about 75 minutes late. Air Canada did state that although they know it was an inconvenience to their passengers, the overall reaction was positive. They said that once people learned that the dog’s life was in jeopardy they understood the importance of the diversion.
It is certainly nice to know that there are still people and companies that will go above and beyond for the safety of their customers. For many large corporations everything comes down to money, and although the pilot may have still diverted the plane, I’m sure other airlines may not have been as understanding. Thankfully, Air Canada cares as much about their canine passengers as they do their human customers.