An Alberta woman is calling out WestJet after she said she was denied boarding over the size of her pet dog and the size of the airline carrier the animal was in.
Julie Carbonneau was flying back to Calgary from Montreal on Aug. 29 when she said she was stopped by an airline agent just minutes before boarding.
“I go to board and this person says: ‘Oh, you can’t get on the plane,’ she said. “I said: ‘What do you mean? What do you mean I can’t get on the plane?’
‘Well, the carrier is too small for your dog,'” she said the agent told her.
Carbonneau said the WestJet agent pointed out Lucy, her young 19-pound pup, couldn’t stand up straight in the carrier. He said she also couldn’t move around freely, which Carbonneau didn’t see as a problem.
“She was laying down in there quite comfortably. She can lay down in there and lift her head and look,” she added. “She was fine.”
Carbonneau said she was especially upset because she had had no problems flying Lucy to Montreal back in June — also with WestJet.
She had also arrived at Montreal’s airport three hours before her Calgary flight — to make sure the carrier wouldn’t be a problem. She said she was checked-in without any issues, adding the original agents even re-checked after Lucy had been denied.
“The lady that allowed me to get on the plane grabbed my dog again, put her in the kennel and said: ‘I don’t see what’s wrong with this.’”
Carbonneau said she was told a mistake was made and she would need to go and get another pet carrier. She called her daughter, who lived two-and-a-half hours away, to go and buy her one. She arrived at the airport with four pet carriers Carbonneau worried would still be rejected.
“I dropped to my knees,” she said. “I just went, ‘Oh my God. They’re all the same size.’”
But despite being similar in size, Carbonneau said the second carrier was approved by WestJet and the agent who had denied their boarding– and he did it without even seeing the new carrier. Unfortunately, it was too late by then, however, and Carbonneau, along with her young son and Lucy, were told to rebook another flight and pay for it out of pocket.
“I’m not getting on. There’s no way I’m getting on. I need to get a new carrier. I’m going to have to rebook flights,” she said. “I said, ‘Is WestJet going to do that? He said, ‘nope.'”
“He said that’s at your expense. We’re not going to look after that and we’re not responsible for that.”
She was able to get WestJet to reverse course on her paying for the next day’s flight, but she’s still battling with the airline to reimburse her for the 24-hour delay, along with her Montreal hotel room and other charges.
Global News asked WestJet about those claims, but at the time of publishing, had yet to hear back. Carbonneau said she did get an email stating while the airline was sorry, the flight left on time and there were no disturbances — so her claim was denied.
Airline pet transport policies
WestJet, along with most other airlines, do have strict pet transport policies in place.
WestJet’s website states that there are general entrance requirements for guests travelling with pets. There are size limits, health certifications and vaccination requirements for pets, among other rules.
Carbonneau said she looked on WestJet’s site and couldn’t find anything specific to her claim and why Lucy was denied. She added she knows and respects the rules — as long as they’re consistent and not confusing.