On Board Dog & Allergy

Old Mar 16, 2023, 8:45 am
  #1  
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On Board Dog & Allergy

I recently had this experience on board and think there is probably no right answer as to what should happen, but thought it might make for an interesting discussion.

Flying to DFW in Business. Got on board and settled into my seat, a short while later a fellow passenger takes the seat in front of me, complete with a small dog. The dog doesn't have a 'working dog' style jacket on so I can only assume it's an emotional support dog or similar and of course has been given permission to board.

Now I have a pretty bad allergy to dogs. Even hypoallergenic ones. However I think there's probably enough space between us for it not to be an issue. However ten mins later my symptoms start appearing.

I go speak to the crew, I explain I have an allergy, that my medication which would help it is in my checked luggage (I wasn't assuming that there'd be a dog on board) and asking what they could do.

I was told the flight was full in business and there was nothing they could do. They refused to ask anyone else to reseat and said if it was going to be a problem for me they could move me to economy. Those were my options. So basically they were offering no help at all.

What happened at this point is a fellow passenger overheard the conversation and offered to switch seats, they were sitting further away and actually happened to be travelling with the passenger with the dog. So we did a switch and everything was fine bar a few sniffles and sneezes.

I suppose the point for discussion is what is the airline meant to do in this instance. The fact that they refused to ask other passengers seemed weird to me. If someone hadn't overheard us I would have taken it upon myself to ask other passengers if anyone minded switching. Equally the downgrade didn't seem like a fun option when I'd paid full fare business.

Is there a duty of care to one passenger over another? Assuming this is an emotional support animal then of course they have a duty of care to that passenger and their dog, however is their no duty of care to fellow passengers who are put out by this, be it allergies, fear of dogs or any other reason? Does one passenger trump another's needs? I know if I'd had to stay in that seat the flight would have been hellish with constant streaming of eyes, sneezing and a sore throat.

So, what say you?
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 8:48 am
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Originally Posted by mediamonkey
So, what say you?
Ah, if one even claims to be allergic to peanuts, they ban it from the entire plane. So, why not when one's allergic to an animal?

PS - Why can't animals travel in the cargo hold? Cruelty or something?
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 8:52 am
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Originally Posted by Visconti
Ah, if one even claims to be allergic to peanuts, they ban it from the entire plane. So, why not when one's allergic to an animal?

PS - Why can't animals travel in the cargo hold? Cruelty or something?
Of course some animals do, however some pets are considered emotional support animals. I know there's a lot of arguments either way on that and I know some people who have registered their pets as emotional support animals so they can fly with them, even though they are not, but also I am fully aware that for many people it is a genuine need and on this occasion I was happy to assume that there was a genuine need to fly with the animal.

Also good point and analogy with the peanuts. Although Peanuts aren't living creatures (apart from maybe that fancy Mr Peanut fella)
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Last edited by mediamonkey; Mar 16, 2023 at 8:52 am Reason: spelling
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 8:53 am
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Originally Posted by mediamonkey
Of course some animals do, however some pets are considered emotional support animals.
LOL...This is way beyond my pay grade. Anyway, my thoughts on this topic are likely very old fashioned from another time, and had best leave it at that.

Originally Posted by mediamonkey
Also good point and analogy with the peanuts. Although Peanuts aren't living creatures (apart from maybe that fancy Mr Peanut fella)
Sure, crying baby I'll deal with; but, a barking dog? Ah, that's where I draw the line.
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by Visconti
LOL...This is way beyond my pay grade. Anyway, my thoughts on this topic are likely very old fashioned from another time, and had best leave it at that.
LOL! Very wise! I'm aware this could be a divisive issue and hoping it doesn't turn into a flame war. I don't think there is a right answer and it'll be a mix or personal and generational opinion.

But I do wonder if there is an actual set of guidelines or code of conduct for crew on how to manage such a situation.

At least in my experience it was managed dreadfully and I was considered less of an important passenger than the passenger with the dog.
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 9:02 am
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Seems a bit of an empathy-free response from the crew. I'm almost surprised they didn't scold you for packing your dog allergy meds in a checked bag for good measure from what you've described.

Did you ask to speak with the Inflight Manager about this, or was this just a crew member in your cabin?

It's always better to try and get it resolved then and there if you can, rather than be left in the situation you describe, where you've a sour taste left behind, and doubts about whether you trust BA to do the right thing by you should you find yourself in this situation again.
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 9:05 am
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On which airline did you travel to DFW? BA do not allow emotional support animals in the passenger cabin, only recognised service dogs. In that case the Equality Act would likely kick in and trump your allergy.
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by mjh0

Did you ask to speak with the Inflight Manager about this, or was this just a crew member in your cabin?.
TBH once the other passenger offered to switch I just let it lie. Didnít feel it was worth stressing or debating further. I spoke to what I had thought was a senior member of crew looking after the business cabin and know it wasnít the FSM.
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 9:10 am
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Was this AA rather than BA?

It's probably a good idea to keep anti-histamines, particularly the eye-drop types, handy if you are badly affected, dogs are a feature of everyday life including airports and air travel. Plus in transport to and from airports. There are several dozen dogs that work full time in Heathrow for example. In theory, once airborne, the HEPA filters should help, and some people with allergies in this space say they found face masks to be helpful (others people don' find them helpful). Moreover the spectrum that is connected with dog allergies tends to connect to other allergies, so it's important not to have medicines in checked luggage, which is in any case prone to get delayed .

I think it is reasonable to put the responsibility on you for this, to a greater or lesser extent, since you will know what is best for you and can take the appropriate precautions. The issue of "fairness" is best forgotten about, it's unhelpful in the moment. Same with food allergies - it's not realistic to filter the entire onboard catering via one person's needs. The nuclear option is to ask to be offloaded, if you had bags, due tot he delay this would cause, and so long as you were polite about this then BA would just rebook you on to alternative flights, which to DFW won't be at all tricky. But it would seriously disrupt the flight's operations - perhaps including cancellation - so you can see why that wasn't offered. I suspect the willingness to ask for volunteers would have been greater if that was on the table, there are bound to be staff travellers on board on that route in particular.
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 9:10 am
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Originally Posted by Tobias-UK
On which airline did you travel to DFW? BA do not allow emotional support animals in the passenger cabin, only recognised service dogs.
Well this is embarrassing, now I think on it, the outbound where this occurred was actually on American Airlines metal. The dog free return was on BA and both flights were ticketed with BA.l
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 9:14 am
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave
Was this AA rather than BA?

It's probably a good idea to keep anti-histamines, particularly the eye-drop types, handy if you are badly affected, dogs are a feature of everyday life including airports and air travel. Plus in transport to and from airports. There are several dozen dogs that work full time in Heathrow for example.

Good points. And exactly why I packed the meds, albeit in my carry on. My assumption was, whilst there will be dogs Iíll encounter in the airport, those encounters will most likely be short, limited and in large areas. I didnít account for there being a dog next to me in an enclosed cabin for a 9 hour flight.

That said, I do keep my meds in hand luggage now.
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 9:42 am
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BA policy is similar, if you are sat next to a dog onboard and are allergic, you will be offered another seat IF one is available. Obviously once airborne the crewís ability to help becomes more restricted, but if on the ground and there are no other seats, policy would be to offload the allergy sufferer, not the dog. BA does have far more restrictions on animal carriage in the cabin than US carriers.

So thatís policy, but I would hope a crew would be a bit more empathetic and try to reach a solution that worked for everyone.
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 10:02 am
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Obviously we don't know how exactly they responded/tone of voice/body language, etc but would it possible that a perceived lack of empathy was more due to a lack of options for reseating you?

The refusal to ask people to move is a fair one (and puts me in mind of this: https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...men-seats-kids ) as the only reason someone should be moved from the seat they have booked is for operational purposes - not competent to be in an exit row, faulty seat, etc.
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 10:14 am
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Originally Posted by mjh0
Seems a bit of an empathy-free response from the crew. I'm almost surprised they didn't scold you for packing your dog allergy meds in a checked bag for good measure from what you've described.
But, isn't this like rule number one when it comes to packing? All your necessary medications should go in hand luggage and not into check bags? If you have an allergy severe enough to warrant medication, shouldn't you have that on your person?
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Old Mar 16, 2023, 10:22 am
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Originally Posted by DutchessPDX
But, isn't this like rule number one when it comes to packing? All your necessary medications should go in hand luggage and not into check bags? If you have an allergy severe enough to warrant medication, shouldn't you have that on your person?
Talking number one (and two) does the Dog avail itself of the facilities provided in the washroom when the need arises ?
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