An Air Canada pilot diverted his flight to save a dog passenger from freezing to death in the plane’s cargo hold this week, landing the Toronto-bound aircraft from Tel Aviv in Frankfurt for a 75-minute delay.
Simba, a 7-year-old French bulldog, was experiencing his first-ever airplane ride in the cargo hold when the unnamed pilot of Air Canada Flight 85 noticed a malfunction in the plane’s cargo area heating system just before the plane was about to soar over the Atlantic Ocean, according to City News
. Simba’s owner, German Kontorovich, was riding in the plane’s cabin.
Knowing that the outside temperature would drop severely over the ocean, which could potentially cause the cargo area’s temperature to plunge below freezing, the pilot feared for Simba’s life and decided to act quickly, CNN reported
“As soon as the crew became aware of the temperature issue, the captain grew rightfully concerned for the dog's comfort and well-being,” said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick, according to CNN. “With the altitude it can become very uncomfortable, and possibly the situation could have been life-threatening if the flight had continued.”
When the flight was diverted to Frankfurt, Simba boarded another plane bound for Toronto, where he was eventually reunited with Kontorovich upon landing.
“It’s my dog, it’s like my child. It’s everything to me,” Kontorovich said after he and Simba were reunited at Pearson Airport, according to City News.
The flight’s diversion, however, likely cost Air Canada about $10,000 in fuel costs and delays, and the pilot was forced to quickly make his decision with all of his passengers in mind.
“While we recognize this was an inconvenience for our customers, the overall reaction was positive, particularly once people understood the dog was in potential danger but safe as a result of the diversion," Fitzpatrick said in an email to the Toronto Sun
Aviation expert Phyl Durby applauded the pilot’s decision, despite the monetary costs.
“If you look at the outside temperature, if it’s minus 50 or 60, there is some insulation but it will probably still get down to below freezing (in the cargo area),” Durby said, according to City News.“The captain is responsible for all lives on board, whether it’s human or K-9.”
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