United Airlines flight diverted after third pet incident in a week

Mar 21, 2018, 03:36
United Airlines flight diverted after third pet incident in a week

United Airlines is suspending new reservations for cargo-hold pet transportations after several incidents occured last week, leading to a wave of negative publicity.

In the aftermath of the French bulldog's death, the flight attendant who ordered the dog's carrier into the overhead compartment told United officials she was not aware that there was a live animal inside the carrier.

The carrier's decision on Tuesday comes a week after United inadvertently flew a German shepherd to Japan instead of Kansas, compelling the airline to charter a private jet to carry the canine, named Irgo, back to his human family. It expects to finish the review May 1.

During that time, the carrier will honour existing reservations without accepting new ones for the service, which is for animals travelling in the cargo hold. Additionally, it's partnering with independent experts in travel safety for pets.

The review follows three high profile incidents involving pets travelling on United flights. Corridore said United's problems are worse than at other airlines and are likely to hurt the company financially "until executive changes are made". The two dogs were later returned home.

Hobart also said that United also will give airport crews more advance warning about the number and type of animals flying in cargo for each flight.

Under the new rules, animals are not allowed in cabins outside carriers without documents certifying that they are in good health and have been trained to behave appropriately in public settings.

In 2017, United accounted for 78% of all animal-related mishaps among major U.S. airlines, despite accounting for just 27% of all animal transportation, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The "PetSafe" program only applies to cargo travel, meaning passengers can still bring domesticated pets in aircraft cabins.

This suspension does not affect pets that travel within the main cabin, though United says this service will also be under review. The company previously already announced that starting in April, it will issue brightly colored bag tags that will help better identify animals that are traveling in-cabin.

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