A pilot diverted a flight to Toronto, delaying hundreds of people and costing the airline thousands of dollars in fuel costs. The surprising part is the passengers’ reaction was overall “positive,” once they realized the reason.
It turns out a dog in the cargo hold was at risk of freezing to death.
According to the Huffington Post, pilot Peter Fitzpatrick noticed that a heating malfunction in the cargohold on Air Canada Flight AC085 from Tel Aviv to Toronto. The system bug didn’t risk the plane or any of its human passengers, but for a 7-year-old French Bulldog named Simba, it was a dangerous matter.
The pilot explained.
“The temperature was falling, as it is very cold at the high altitude where our planes fly. While a heater is not normally a critical component, on this particular flight there was a live animal in the hold. With the altitude it can become very uncomfortable, and possibly the situation could have been life threatening if the flight had continued.”
To save the little dog, the pilot made a critical decision and diverted the flight to Frankfurt, Germany. According to CNN, Simba and his owner German Kontorovich could then hop on another safer flight to Toronto.
The owner explained his gratitude to City News after touching down in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
“It’s my dog, it’s like my child. It’s everything to me.”
— WTHR.com (@WTHRcom) September 16, 2015
John Nance, aviation consultant for ABC News explained that the move was not only compassionate; it was “unprecedented.”
“This is very laudatory because we have some airlines that don’t care if they break guitars, kill dogs and cats. I would think that Air Canada is due some public praise here, especially if they support their captain.”
The choice to land in Frankfurt allowed the passengers to underway more quickly, since the city serves as a hub for Air Canada flights. The 232 passengers still had to wait about 75 minutes to continue, but they were understanding according to the pilot.
“The overall reaction was positive, particularly once people understood the dog was in potential danger but safe as a result of the diversion.”
The diversion also cost the airline a large amount in fuel. The airline didn’t comment on how much exactly, according to ABC News.
Whatever the costs, the pilot explained he had a greater responsibility at hand when choosing to divert the flight for a dog.
“The captain is responsible for all lives on board — whether it’s human or canine.”
[Image Credit: John Li/Getty Images]