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Alaska Airlines

Allergic Alaska Passenger Rebooked Due to Cabin Cat

Allergic Alaska Passenger Rebooked Due to Cabin Cat
Ryan Boyd

15-year-old Alaska Airlines passenger Kaisa Kotch was forced to rebook her flight after having an allergic reaction to a cat within the cabin of the aircraft shortly after boarding.

“We do our best to accommodate all individuals when they are traveling on Alaska Airlines,” said Tim Thompson, Alaska Airlines’ external affairs manager. “In this situation, staff followed our process in working to provide as much distance onboard as possible between a traveler with allergies and another traveler with an animal in the cabin. While attempts were made to assist both guests, the traveler with allergies elected to be re-accommodated on a later flight.”

To read more on this story, go to The Arctic Sounder.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (26)


  1. moeve

    August 8, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Oops that should have said…..

    Step into their shoes before you throw them into the pot of posers

  2. closecover

    August 8, 2018 at 7:35 am


    People first

    Then cats

  3. lobo411

    August 8, 2018 at 11:25 am

    15 year old kids can’t make voluntary choices in situations like this, because they don’t have enough age/wisdom/life experience to be able to say “no” to adults.

  4. rbwpi

    August 8, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Re-accommodate the cat on a later flight, not the passenger.

  5. festdave

    August 8, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    If she was only 15, was she traveling as an “unaccompanied minor,” or is that old enough to not do so? And how might that affect the situation?

  6. trav25

    August 8, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    There should be a policy that states that if someone chooses to bring an animal on the plane with passengers, if anyone is allergic, they will have to put the animal down below or fly another available flight. Period. The only people I would feel bad for is a blind person with a seeing eye dog.

  7. edgewood49

    August 8, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    So why are we being subjected to down in the weeds with airlines. If someone stubs their toe is this worth blogging about? I mean really. There is no drama here, no was was “humiliated” as Hu wrote, no one was dragged off in handcuffs.

    What happened to the good old days when Brian or Jeff wrote meaningful articles that we road warriors could use.

  8. Clipping Path Service

    August 9, 2018 at 2:22 am


  9. MikeFromTokyo

    August 9, 2018 at 4:43 am

    “Reacommodate the Cat on a later flight” ? Absolutely not.

    The cat is traveling with a ticket along with passenger. It is not that passenger or the cat’s problem that someone has an allergy.

    If this passenger has an unusally acute allergic reaction to the presence of a cat, it is HER responsibility (or her family/guardian’s) to avoid cats by speaking with the airline ahead of time. The world, and the normally ticeketed passengers – including in cabin pets – do not bear the burden of accommodating her.

  10. Wynterwynd

    August 9, 2018 at 4:45 am

    As someone that has traveled with a cat in a carrier under the seat and paid $125 for the privilege, I’m going to weigh in on the side of the passenger with the pet on board. We book a reservation for the pet, we pay a fee to bring the pet and if airlines start letting every passenger that sneezes overrule the current pet policy, they might as well ban all pets on board. This is similar to the peanut issue; the ‘good of the many’ is ignored for the ‘the few.’
    I’m not making light of allergies. Perhaps passengers should be able to see ahead of time if there is a pet on board and then be able to make other arrangements if they have such a severe allergy that they cannot spend any time at all in the vicinity of an animal.
    Personally, I am severely allergic to babies on laps, who travel for free….but I would never consign them to the cargo hold (though I might volunteer to travel down there myself).

  11. flyingill

    August 9, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Since the allergen is already. On the plane,it is best to remove customer. Cat already infected the area

  12. rjlon

    August 9, 2018 at 4:52 am

    Animals always come first. I always make this point when Mothers says flights should stop peanuts being eaten. I have anaphylaxis response to Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Luckily on international flights, animals are not allowed in Cabin but I have been forced to change domestic flights when passengers with seeing eye dogs board. Allergy sufferers are not on airlines’s list of priorities (unless they have anaphylaxis in flight and have to divert for medical assistance)…

  13. kc1174

    August 9, 2018 at 5:07 am

    Pets (at least with AA) should be booked with their own record locator at the time the pax books their flight as there’s a limit per plane. The pax pays for the animal in the cabin, and for the duration of the flight it sits under a seat in a bag. It can’t come out and you can’t open the bag (although I have opened it a little at times to offer treats when ascending or descending so it’s swallowing to ease pressure on it’s ears). Seriously – if there’s one or two animals per plane – move the pax to different ends of the plane if it’s that big a deal. Unless it’s a dash 8, the plane is a couple of hundred feet long. It’s recirculated air, but with the pet in a bag under the seat it’s not like fur is being blown all round the cabin. Besides – she opted for another flight. Am pretty sure the disclaimer I sign when I check in my small dog has something about the possibility of being moved if there’s a problem. Can even take him into the admirals club, but again I can be asked to leave if he causes issues. As for the comment about seeing eye dogs being ok – what’s the difference? Let’s face it – those pose more of an issue for folk with allergies as they’re not required to be stuck in a bag under the seat and are out in the open because they’re bigger. Do I have a problem with them? No of course not, but it would be interesting if someone with dog allergies was bumped or a blind person bumped because of a seeing eye dog. Now let’s get to the issue of a cat owner getting on a plane that has cat fur on their clothes when they board… I guess they risk being bumped too? Crazy..

  14. zitsky

    August 9, 2018 at 5:13 am

    I am not putting my cat in cargo where they can die. If an airline tells me to take another flight, I would, if possible.

  15. gum

    August 9, 2018 at 5:21 am

    I am convinced that it is complete ruthless if airlines accommodate pets within the cabin for human passengers.

    The reason is – besides the question of allergies – really simple:

    + Some people simply don’t like the smell and the tallow particles which cats are unavoidably spreading around.

    Every minute with this strange smell is a torture for the nose and after some time an itching on the skin will occur.

    You can “test” this with a neighbour or relative who has a cat in his flat or house. Go in and *take in air*. Does it smell naturally? Or is it different to your clean home? #

    If the answer is yes you can understand why it is a good measure to transport cats and other smelling animals in a climatized cargo hold.

    The main problem is the differentiation: Would a normal feeling of being uncomfortable and skin redness after exposure of two hours or so of cats particles qualify as *real illness*.

    Or is a medical certificate needed?
    What is if a cat is urinating into its container?
    Is it a threat to the comfort of healthiness of other passengers if the smelling furball is let out of his cointainer?
    Where are the borders?

    There are so many questions unsolved that the only solution is to cherish the majority of passengers travelling without such a smell/health risk.

    And one more: With the utilization/passenger load factor up to the 90ü % in Eco there is not much space to change seats!

    And what if such a smell is ruining your premium class experience?

    There is only one perfect solution: Pets of all kind to the climatized cargo compartment.

    This can even be a strong selling point for airlines.

    Often also a source for conflicts:

    Right of way for common sense is strictly recommended.

    Best regards


  16. lbotez

    August 9, 2018 at 6:13 am

    Really? I’ve travelled with cats in the cabin on a few flights. Mainly because I was moving from one state to another. I had to pay to have the cat in the cabin (in a small carrier). I’m sorry for the person who may allergic, however if 99% of the passengers are fine with the cat in the cabin, why should that person have to leave the plane? Usually most people won’t mind taking the next flight out. As far as putting the cat in the hold, I would never do that (especially considering all the pet deaths lately).

  17. clbish

    August 9, 2018 at 6:14 am

    If the allergy is that bad, and the pet is already on the plane, then yes. The person would need to be rebooked because the cabin and air would already be contaminated.

  18. davidlhanson

    August 9, 2018 at 6:17 am

    Get the stupid pets out of the passenger cabin!!! When did such nonsense start?

  19. Kensterfly

    August 9, 2018 at 6:23 am

    FestDave, any child 12 or up is not considered an unaccompanied minor. At least with most airlines.

  20. tinkerinc

    August 9, 2018 at 8:58 am

    As someone with severe cat allergies and that has been affected by this exact problem, this is totally bogus! First, this whole emotional support animal crap is just that crap. Second, if someone with peanut allergies can clear an entire plane of peanuts why can someone that is truly allergic to something else like a cat or dog not clear the plane of them? The human is paying the fare not the animal and it is a concession to the pet owner to allow them on the plane NOT A RIGHT, so if anyone is to be forced off the plane it should be the pet and their owner, not the person allergic to the pet.

    Now I am a million miler with high-level status and travel extensively so I doubt my preferred airline would ever put me in the situation where they are asking me to rebook but I don’t think anyone should be put in this situation ESPECIALLY a 15 year old child.

  21. lindalogan

    August 9, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Absurd to even have any humans leave the plane..just absurd. Humans first. I have been on MANY flights and I have seen dogs and cats…99% of them are NOT for any purpose other than to travel with their pet…YES I know this as I ask each one…and only 1% have said they are for emotional reasons…which I feel is also BS! I have two dogs at HOME. I do not want cats and dogs on a plane as I dont like the smell, the hairs etc in such a small space with no fresh air. What every happened to humans being honest and coping with things!

  22. OWBA

    August 9, 2018 at 10:28 am

    I’d much rather share the cabin with a cat than with a screaming baby.

  23. KRSW

    August 9, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Peanut allergies vs. animal allergies. It’s amazing how they’re handled completely differently.

    I still completely disagree with the Emotional Support Animal crap. Fido isn’t going to put on your oxygen mask when the plane’s pressure envelope is compromised, the masks drop, the pilot makes a nosedive for 10,000 feet, and you have a panic attack. If you are so emotionally unstable that you need to carry a sentient being around to keep you calm, you need a real human companion for air travel.

  24. meballard

    August 9, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    On the pet side, there probably should be a better process for people with true allergies (not just an intolerance or dislike) to report that to the airline, along with the severity (whether they can’t be on the same plane, or not near each other), and then the airline could accommodate and plan for those situations before boarding.

    Short of that, other than disallowing pets in the cabin completely (which is a different argument), someone is going to be re-accommodated when both end up on the same flight. Automatically defaulting to the passenger or pet is in my opinion wrong, but it would depend on the circumstances (such as who booked first), or sometimes people can be moved around, it all depends.

    On the peanut front – anyone who thinks that handling peanuts and handling pets on the flight are the same – are you kidding? No one is going to have a major inconvenience if no peanuts are allowed on the flight. Banning consumption of peanuts is at best a minor inconvenience, especially since they could still be carried in a sealed container. Banning pets from the plane does create a major inconvenience if they’re already on the plane…

  25. northernlights1

    August 10, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    Humans above animals. Anybody that says differently has their priorities backwards. When are the adults going to come back in the room and take over again?

  26. drphun

    August 12, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Why can’t this be scheduled? If a person with a life threatening allergy is already reserved on the flight then don’t allow that in the cabin – at the time of reservation. If a pet is already reserved on the flight, then don’t allow the person with the life threatening allergy to reserve. It isn’t difficult for computers to do this. An incentive not to cheat would be that if your profile shows in the system as having a life threatening allergy to cats, you might not be able to book the flight you want if there is already a cat on it.

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