Air Canada flies man’s cats to California without him

The airline offered the man a credit voucher after he was separated from his pets for 16 hours

Lamiat Sabin
Friday 29 July 2022 10:22 BST
Cat in aircraft cargo carrier [file photo]
Cat in aircraft cargo carrier [file photo] (Creative Commons)

A man was left distraught after Air Canada boarded his two cats on a plane and flew them to the US without him.

Abbas Zoeb, a software engineer, was relocating from Toronto for a job in San Francisco with his cats Mimi and Bubba.

He was “worried if they were alive or not” as he was separated from his pets for 16 hours with no idea if they would be fed and watered, he told the Washington Post.

On 6 July, the Canadian citizen was being questioned about the start dates on his visa – and the questioning went on long enough for him to miss his 8am flight to San Francisco.

Although his baggage was offloaded from the plane, Mimi and Bubba remained on board. He said he was told by staff that no pets would be checked in to fly unless their owner was also on the plane.

After he spent hours looking for the whereabouts of his cats, Air Canada called him in the afternoon to say that he could wait to see his cats in San Francisco, or have someone else pick them up there.

When Mr Zoeb asked about returning them to Toronto, they said the flight – that would typically take 5.5 hours – would arrive at 11.45pm.

“I just had a bad feeling that something has happened because they are just too nonchalant about this,” he told the Post.

Mimi and Bubba are siblings – a brother and sister from the same litter – who are a year and seven months old. Mr Zoeb said that, when he saw his cats again, they looked tired, were not playful, and were sneezing for about a week.

The airline told him that he would be refunded for his ticket, pet fees, baggage and other fees for the missed flight and offered C$200 (£128) to use toward a future flight.

The airline has apologised to Mr Zoeb for the incident, according to an email seen by the Post.

The email read: “I sincerely apologise that we were unable to retrieve your two cats to you in time when you were unable to travel to San Francisco as originally planned. I do wish the best in health for you and your cats.”

But Mr Zoeb wants the airline to give him a more public apology and is considering taking legal action over the compensation.

He said: “C$200 is totally insignificant for how much I’ve been going through and how much time I’ve put towards this and what my pets have gone through.

“I did let them know that that is not an acceptable apology or not an acceptable amount if they want to rectify anything ... They said that’s the most they can do.”

Air passenger protections in Canada say airlines must compensate travellers up to $2,300 to replace items lost or damaged while in the carrier’s control.

Air Canada recently updated its terms of carriage saying it would no longer be accepting new requests for transporting animals in the cargo hold until 12 September “due to longer than usual airport delays”.

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