Abbas Zoeb successfully checked in for his flight with Air Canada from Toronto to San Francisco on July 6— but his travel plans were scrapped after he was denied boarding due to visa issues. And it was a situation only made worse when he learned his cats, Mimi and Bubba, were sent to SFO anyways.
In a story published by Insider, Zoeb was told by an Air Canada representative that "under no circumstances" would his cats fly without him... though his luggage might. Zoeb expected a luggage mix-up but never believed he'd have to play a game of cat-and-mouse having to retrieve his own felines.
After hours of waiting, the Canadian airline confirmed Zoeb’s fears: His cats had, in fact, been sent to the United States without him.
As if things couldn't get any worse or convoluted or disheartening, Zoeb told Insider that Air Canada had suggested he try to get to San Francisco himself — despite having just been denied entry into the United States on visa issues. The airline then offered another bit of advice: to ask someone in the city to collect the cats for him.
"I said this is absurd and I don't have anyone to collect them," he said. But eventually — after 15 hours of being separated, to be exact —Zoeb was reunited with his fur babies.
Though.... the chaotic story doesn't end there. Because once the two cats were back in Zoeb's possession, he described them as “visibly tired and feeling sick” after the ordeal of being handled like packages—"my pets were being treated like throwaway luggage, and I was in anxiety all this time since no one could tell me where they were."
Per Air Canada's website, the airline now prohibits pets to be checked into the baggage compartments, and its new policy on pet travel, which will stay in effect until at least September 12, only allowing animals to travel with their owners in the cabin.
It's unclear if the decision was made in light of Zoeb's woes getting back his cats — as well as the condition they were returned in — but he's happy no other passengers will have to endure these stresses.
"I am glad they won't be taking pets in cargo anywhere because I don't want any pet parent to go through what I did," Zoeb told Insider in closing.
It's perhaps a bit of luck Mimi and Bubba weren't transported by way of Delta Airlines. According to a report published in Forbes, the aforementioned airline has the highest number of pet deaths logged by any airline between 2010 and 2020, accounting for over 30% of all recorded airline pet deaths.
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images/Ekaterina Feduleyva