Users branded the practice “traumatic” and begged travellers not to “do this to your pets”.
A baggage handler’s video demonstrating how pets are stored in the cargo hold of passenger planes at Vancouver International Airport has gone viral on TikTok - but for all the wrong reasons.
The clip by the baggage handler, known by his username “djsugue”, has already racked up 7 millions views showing a small white dog in a crate in the cargo hold of a plane.
The baggage handler is seen unclipping a fabric partition in the hold to reveal the little white dog inside a crate and can be heard saying “All strapped down” as he motions to straps securing the crate to the floor of the hold.
On the other side of the partition are stacks of luggage.
Although seemingly trying to assure travellers that pets are safe on flights, the clip has had a huge backlash from other users who have branded the practice “traumatic”.
One user said: “I could never do this to my dog. I’d be crying and throwing up the entire plane ride knowing how lonely and scared he is.”
Another said: “Nobody talks about the NOISE!!! The noise from cargo bins from the engines, esp [sic] at takeoff, is HORRIBLE!!!!! Dogs have sensitive ears.”
A third said: “Please don’t ever do this to your pets - I flew once with my dog like this and I could hear screaming the whole time. It was traumatic for us both.”
However the comments are split, with some users claiming to be fellow baggage handlers, or ramp agents, saying this is standard practice.
One said: “Hi, ramp agent here. This is the front of the jet. It is pressurized, heated and the lights stay on. Ramp crew love your pets and make sure they are safe.”
Another added: “Pets are safe in the cargo it’s temperature controlled and air access for them to breathe. I personally treat the pet as if it’s my own when loading.”
Djsugue’s TikTok account features many behind the scenes clips of working at an airport, with other videos being made up of requests from other users, with this clip being requested by a user asking “can you show us where you put dog cages… please I am planning to being [sic] my dog with me but I am very scared”.
In his bio, it states he works at Vancouver International Airport.
Pets are allowed to travel with owners in the cabin - but only if they are below a certain size and have to remain in a travel crate.
Air Canada and Westjet - Canada’s two largest airlines - also said earlier this year that they would no longer be allowing emotional support animals to travel freely in the cabin - like service animals do - following rule changes in the US which travellers branded “heartbreaking”.
The way pets are stored in the hold can also be extremely worrying for travellers after cases where a pet has died. A White Rock teacher is still seeking answers from a Chinese airline more than a year later after her Golden Retriever Maverick suffered a “horrible” death in the hold.
Is it safe for dogs to fly in cargo?
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the cargo hold is deemed safe for pets.
“Most people would prefer to fly with their pet in the cabin of the aircraft however, this is not always possible, especially if your pet is over a certain size or if the airline does not allow pets in cabin. The only option left is for your pet to travel in the cargo hold,” reads a statement on the IATA’s website.
“Do not worry, cats and dogs actually travel better this way because it is quieter and they will rest in a darkened environment. Despite all the fears about airline pet cargo travel, millions of animals are carried safely every year.”
The IATA also has a set of rules called the Live Animal Regulations which ensures animals are transported “safely and humanely by air”.
The aircraft in the TikTok video appears to be a 737 Max - the airliner grounded for two years following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Kenya - according to the hashtag accompanying the video.
Although it isn’t clear which airline the jet belongs to, Air Canada has 25 of the aircraft in service whereas Westjet has 13.
Air Canada says it has specially trained and dedicated staff who look after pets in their cargo holds and has been awarded by the IATA for their pet services. Westjet has a detailed list of regulations available on its website for travellers considering transporting their pets in cargo holds.