Update: Air Canada won an appeal of this ruling on dog allergy buffer zones and other accommodations. See this article.
The Canadian Transportation Agency in August 2013 issued its decision on dog allergies in the sky. On flights operated by Air Canada, people who are allergic to dogs will be able to request special accommodation.
By giving 48 hours’ notice before flying, dogs will either be banned from the cabin, or a five-row buffer zone will be established to separate the allergic traveler from any dogs. This is essentially the same rule that already applies to people allergic to cats, which was established in a CTA decision in 2012. Even if less than 48 hours’ notice is given, the airline must do its best to accommodate.
The type of accommodation received depends on the type of ventilation system present in the aircraft. For airplanes which use HEPA filters, or whose cabins contain 100 percent un-recirculated fresh air, the buffer zone will be established. On planes without HEPA filters which also recirculate cabin air, dogs will be banned from the cabin.
Service Dog Exception
There is one caveat which distinguishes this decision from the cat allergy decision. Service dogs are used to aid people with disabilities, and are allowed on planes for this reason.
If both an individual allergic to dogs and a person with a service dog want to board the same flight, a conflict may exist. For airplanes which would qualify for a buffer zone, nothing changes, but for those craft which (due to their ventilation systems) would be obligated to impose a ban on dogs in the cabin, seating will be provided on a first come, first served basis. That is, whoever completes the booking process first will be allowed on the plane, while the other party will have to be booked on another flight.
Air Canada has until September 16, 2013 to comply with the order. Update: see this article. Air Canada won an appeal of the above ruling.