Pets on Planes
There are rules and there are exceptions to those rules. There are times which compel reexamination of those limitations. There are people with the judgment and discretion to make exceptions. This is exactly that sort of case where the right person made the right decision for the right reasons and the results were perfect.
The tragedy of the uncontained fire at Fort McHenry, Canada has received national and international attention. Stories about the deaths of people and the losses of property have been headlined by the media. The valiant efforts of the first responders and the aid which has come from around the world have received appropriate coverage.
Suncor Energy, with a major presence in this Alberta city, committed its aviation department and their partnering airlines to rescuing the people trapped by this conflagration. The combined airlift evacuated 10,000 folks.
The company’s Chief Pilot Keith Mann noticed that the next load of evacuees were accompanied by their most beloved pets—ranging from hedgehogs and a frog, on the small side to larger sizes like a 200 lb. dog (who decided that sitting on a seat was meant for canines of his stature). The rules prohibit the carriage of animals because (a) they may not handle the stress of flight well and thus may disrupt the cabin and (b) the pets may behave like humans and get aggressive with other creatures. When enforcement of this well-considered restriction, designed for normal operations, had the impact of writing a death warrant, the right result was to waive that prohibition. Captain Mann exercised his PIC discretion and decided that it would be inhumane to abandon the pets; so he waived the rule.
The results of his decision were described in the Captain’s quote about the behavior of the additional passengers:
“He just hopped into a seat and wouldn’t get out, so we were trying to encourage him to sit on the ground.”
“It was a range of pets, so you can just imagine the potential of it. But once they got airborne it was just total tranquility.”
Great outcome based on a good decision by Captain Mann.