- A blind woman flew from London to Canada and back with her guide dog on WestJet.
- Chloe McBratney said her dog Emily was “squashed” into her footwell on both flights.
- WestJet said the third-party used to book flights did not make a request for special arrangements.
A blind woman has criticized WestJet Airlines for “squashing” her guide dog in the footwell of her seat on two transatlantic flights, the BBC first reported.
Chloe McBratney, a coach at Barry Town United’s pan-disability team in south Wales, flew from London to Canada and back with her guide dog Emily.
She told the BBC she was “incredibly worried” about her dog’s welfare on the two flights. “Emily was at my feet the entire time, however for anyone traveling on a plane it’s not enough space anyway and then put a dog at your feet it’s even less space,” she said.
WestJet apologized to McBratney but stipulated that the third party she used to book her tickets had not contacted the airline to ask for special arrangements, the BBC reported.
WestJet did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside normal working hours.
McBratney could feel during her flight to Canada that Emily “couldn’t turn around properly – when I took her harness off I could tell by her demeanor that she just wasn’t comfortable at all”.
She was advised by the airline to cancel her tickets with the third-party and book full-priced tickets directly with WestJet, she told the BBC.
“I booked my ticket five months ago and then rang the airline. I requested there and then for extra leg room,” McBratney said. However, she was told they could not make the special arrangements at the time and when closer to the time there was nothing she could do because she booked through a third party.
“It was an eight-hour flight, which for anyone is a really long time. It made it incredibly hard for both her and me as well,” she told the BBC.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority told the BBC that airlines are not obliged to seat passengers with guide dogs in the front row, but many do so anyway.
WestJet told the outlet: “All guests traveling with service dogs provide us with at least 48 hours advance notice before their flight departs.”
Because the third-party had failed to do so, McBratney’s options were limited to “purchasing an additional seat or upgrading to a seat with additional leg room.”