WestJet policy grounds Ontario woman and her pet chihuahua

A woman from Thunder Bay, Ont., is frustrated after booking a flight to Florida, and then finding out she cannot take her 10-year-old chihuahua with her.

Options include shipping dog as cargo, or re-booking part of trip

Ravyn Malanych wants to take her ten-year-old chihuahua on a flight from Thunder Bay, Ont., to Daytona Beach, Florida. She is unable to because of policies with Westjet. (Submitted)

A woman from Thunder Bay, Ont., is frustrated after booking a flight to Florida, and then finding out she cannot take her 10-year-old chihuahua, Princess Diablo, with her.

Ravyn Malanych is scheduled to leave Thunder Bay on Thursday morning, to travel to Daytona Beach. She was expectnig to take a WestJet flight from her home in northwestern Ontario to Toronto, and then take a flight with Delta Airlines from Toronto to Daytona Beach, via Atlanta, Ga.

Malanych said she has travelled with her dog many times, using a small carry-on kennel.

This time, because her itinerary is booked using a code-share, meaning another airline provides part of the air service, Malanych said she found out too late that she cannot take her dog, who requires twice-daily medication, with her.

"So I called the airlines to confirm there was space on all the flights I was taking for the dog. They all said, 'yes' so I booked my flight."

"I called Delta first to book her onto the flight, because you have to make sure there's room, book your flight, and then call and book the dog onto the flight."

"I called Delta first and they booked her onto all four of their flights. Then, when I called WestJet...that's when they notified me that she isn't allowed on their plane because I'm flying with Delta afterwards, even though the flights were booked with Delta."

'No other option'

Malanych said she is now unsure of how to continue with her vacation.

"I have no other option to get out of Thunder Bay."

She said she does not understand why transferring from one airline to another would cause such an issue.

"They have an agreement with Delta where they will not accept my dog on the plane as a carry-on dog, because I'm flying with Delta afterward. Where, if I was flying, on the exact same plane to Toronto, and not flying with Delta, they'd take her. Or, if I was taking WestJet all the way they would take her."

Malanych said a WestJet representative suggested she re-book her Thunder Bay to Toronto leg of the trip, which would cost $600. That would allow her to bring the dog in the cabin.

The other option is to ship the dog as cargo, where she would be re-united with her owner in Toronto. The chihuahua weighs eight lbs.

Rules are rules

Malanych said she spoke with a supervisor at WestJet, who, although sympathetic, was unable to help her.

"He told me that he thinks the rule is quite ridiculous too, and that there's absolutely nothing they can do for me because of the contract with Delta, which Delta has never heard of."

Malanych said a representative from Delta offered to speak with WestJet, but was told that would not help her cause.

A spokesperson for WestJet told CBC in an e-mail that, "Pets are not permitted on flights operated by our code-share and interline partners. WestJet is also unable to accept pets on flights we operate but were booked through one of our partners."

The spokesperson also said that the rules for bringing pets on board are clearly stated on the WestJet website.

Those rules are found here.


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