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Tag: airlines

1 day later, United screws the pooch again


A day after a passenger was instructed to put her dog in an overhead bin — an order that turned out to be fatal — United has screwed up again, this time accidentally sending a family’s dog to Japan instead of Kansas City.

Kara and Joseph Swindle, along with their children, were moving from Oregon to Wichita. But their German Shepherd, Irgo — traveling as cargo on an earlier flight — was mistakenly shipped to Japan.

When the Swindles arrived at the Kansas City cargo facility to pick up their dog, they were greeted instead by a Great Dane, who was supposed to have been the one loaded on the flight to Japan.

The airline originally told the Swindles that Irgo would have to stay in quarantine in Japan for two weeks, but apparently that was not required. The dog was scheduled to see a veterinarian before being put on a return flight to Wichita.

Kara Swindle told KCTV5 News that United didn’t know how the mistake happened, but she was told by the airline that the kennels were similar.

United Airlines paid for Swindle and her children to stay at a Marriott Hotel near the airport Tuesday night.

“At this point, all I can do is be hopeful that my dog is going to be okay and return safely,” she said. “I don’t know what else to do at this point. I can’t cry anymore. I’ve cried too much.”

The screw-up came on the heels of a far worse one, in which a United flight attendant told a family to put their dog and its carrier in the overhead bin.

“The flight attendant came, and she was like, ‘You have to put him up there because it’s going to block the path,'” Sophia Ceballos, 11, told ABC News on behalf of her mother, Catalina Robledo, who isn’t fluent in English.

The 10-month-old French Bulldog was discovered dead after the plane landed.

Sophia Ceballos said the flight attendant, after landing, said she didn’t know there was a dog in the bag.

“In the end, she says she didn’t know it was a dog, but she actually touched the bag and felt him there. She’s basically lying to us now,” Sophia said.

(Photos: Kara Swindle)

United Airlines kills another dog


United Airlines is admitting a flight attendant violated policy by insisting a passenger place her dog in an overhead bin during a flight from Houston to New York.

The dog was found dead in its carrier after the flight landed at LaGuardia Airport Monday night.

In a statement, United called the dog’s death a “tragic accident.”

Spokesman Charlie Hobart told CNN a flight attendant should not have told the passenger to put the dog in the bin used for carry-on bags.

“We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them,” the airline said Tuesday. “We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”

The death occurred after a passenger brought the dog, identified as a 10-month-old French bulldog, on board in a TSA-approved pet carrier.

After the passenger took a seat, a United flight attendant insisted that the carrier — and dog — be stowed in an overhead bin, according to at least one witness.

Maggie Gremminger said the traveler with the dog protested the attendant’s order to put the pet carrier into the overhead bin, but that the attendant persisted.

Gremminger posted a photo of the grieving woman on Twitter (above) after the flight.

“The passenger adamantly refused but the flight attendant went on with the instruction,” Gremminger wrote. “At the end of the flight – the dog was found dead in the carrier. I am heart broken right now.”

united2United and other airlines generally allow pets to be carried on board provided they’re in carriers that can fit under the seat in front of the owner. Of all airlines, United has the worst pet safety record.

According to a recent U.S. Department of Transportation report, 24 animals died in the care of U.S. carriers last year. Three-quarters of those, 18, died while being handled by United. Of 15 reported injuries, 13 occurred with United.

The airline is the largest transporter of animals, carrying 138,178 animals in 2017. Alaska Airlines, which transported the next-highest number of animals (114,974), had an incident rate of 0.26, one-tenth of United’s industry-leading rate of 2.24 for every 10,000 animals transported.

Several of the animals had pre-existing health issues, the report said, and some incidents happened before the animals were put on planes.

A United spokeswoman said the airline has been in contact with the passenger who owned the dog and offered to pay for a necropsy.

(Photo: Maggie Gremminger/Twitter)

Returning from an exotic locale? Chances are you can bring someone home with you

wapo2We don’t expect Donald Trump to like this (so don’t anyone let him know) but if you’re returning from a trip to some exotic locale — Mexico, Thailand, South Korea, India, Turkey, Colombia, and the Carribean to name a few — you can bring someone back with you to live in the good old USA forever.

And you don’t even have to marry them — or even ever see them again.

Yes, we’re talking about dogs. (Aren’t we almost always?)

But we’re also talking about an easy-lifting way to accomplish a good deed and play a small role in making a dog and a family happy.

Our country’s incoming new leadership may no longer wants those tired, poor and hungry humans we once welcomed from other countries, but the door is still pretty open for dogs (my dog included) that have been saved from horrific conditions in other countries.

Many of them have gotten here thanks to Americans returning from vacations, who are willing to take a little extra time to serve as their official escorts.

How it all works was documented recently by The Washington Post, in a story by Andrea Sachs, who not only talked to people who have done it, but did it herself.

Sachs recently returned from a trip to Colombia with a dog named Max.

“To unknowing eyes, I was just a typical traveler with a strong pet attachment. But in truth I was a flight volunteer for Cartagena Paws, an animal-rescue center that, among myriad services, places Colombian street dogs with adoptive families in North America. My ultimate responsibility was to escort the 8-month-old puppy with the overactive tail to the District. I was headed north anyway, and, well, Max needed a lift.”

There are animal welfare groups around the world rescuing dogs who face bleak lives, or worse, and then finding themselves hard-pressed to find them homes.

One solution they’ve turned to is exporting rescued dogs to the U.S.

Often, though, they need a little help getting them from there to here.

“We use flight volunteers who are met at the airport by the adoptive parents,” said Lisa Anne Ramirez, executive director of the Humane Society of Cozumel Island in Mexico. Those meetings, she says are “usually very emotional and tearful.”

While most airlines will ship a dog traveling solo in their cargo holds, that’s the most expensive and least desirable method.

Dogs are generally permitted to travel as checked baggage, or as carry-ons in the cabin, but in those cases they must be traveling with someone.

The rescue organizations handle the paperwork, so, for the escort, it’s often just a matter of handing those papers over at customs.

Sasithorn “Sas” Moy of Harlem said little inconvenience was involved after she agreed to escort five dogs from Thailand to the U.S. when returning from a trip to visit family.

She contacted the Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation, which sends at least 25 dogs to North America a month.

“I just showed up at the airport and they gave me the paperwork,” she explained after a nearly 20-hour flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. “I said goodbye to the dogs at the X-ray machine. It was painless… There was extra time on the front end and the back end, but it was worthwhile.”

wapo1Sachs advises in the article that travelers wishing to serve as flight volunteers contact the rescue center as soon as they secure their flights.

“I messaged Cartagena Paws two weeks before my departure and received a reply peppered with exclamation points: We would love to have some help! Yes please!”

She and Max flew from Cartagena to Atlanta to Washington — he making the trip next to her in a carrier in the cabin. In Washington, he was picked up for a trip to his new home in Texas.

Sachs also put together a list of international rescues seeking escorts for dogs coming into the United States. You can find more details and contact information at that link.

(Photos: Max arrives in Washington from Cartagena, Columbia, and waits to make the trip to his forever home in San Antonio; volunteers at Cartagena Paws say goodbye to Max at the airport in Cartagena; by Andrea Sachs /The Washington Post)

The dog so fat he had to fly first class

hankthetankA 165-pound mastiff perched atop a cushion was wheeled on to an American Airlines flight in Los Angeles this week, startling passengers when he took a seat in first class.

The dog, named Hank, was photographed by a fellow passenger, tweeted, and widely retweeted.

“It was huge. I have never in my life seen a dog that fat – it was massive,” said Madeleine Sweet, who took the photo.

The passenger said it appeared that Whitman had bought two first class tickets on the LA flight – one for her and one for Hank.

“Everyone, both while boarding the plane and on the plane before takeoff, was speculating as to how the dog got so fat,” she said. “You could legitimately hear hushed whispers of ‘He’s riding first class.'”

Hank sat in the front row of first class on the flight bound for Denver.

Hank belongs to Kari Whitman, an interior designer who founded Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue in Beverly Hills. He is a service dog who detects her seizures., according to NBC in Los Angeles.

As for Hank’s weight issues, they are the result of an illness, and have left him unable to get around much without the aid of a cart.

It appears that this wasn’t Hank’s first flight, or his first first class one, judging from an Instagram for @hankthetank.

Fellow travelers say Hank sat on the floor and that he stayed quiet for the entire flight.

More than probably can be said for some passengers.

(Photo: Madeleine Sweet, via Twitter)

Woof in Advertising: KLM search dog is fake

A beagle named Sherlock, in the employ of KLM airlines, is recovering and returning items lost by travelers  at an Amsterdam Airport — or so this video would have you believe.

But — no shit, Sherlock — the beagle is bogus.

Once again, advertising geniuses have duped the public, and the media, via the Internet.

I’m sure those geniuses don’t see it that way — just creative license, they’d say — but the story of the little beagle reuniting passengers with their lost items is a tall tale, aimed at giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling when it comes to KLM.

Earlier this week the Dutch airline posted the video on YouTube.

Three days later it had 3 million views. New outlets were writing about the amazing pooch who, through his powers of scent, was reuniting travelers with their lost items.


A day or two later, they were writing about him again — once they realized it was, if not an out and out hoax, a creative stretching of the truth.

The video posted on YouTube carried this description: “KLM’s dedicated Lost & Found team at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is on a mission to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. From a teddy bear found by the cabin crew to a laptop left in the lounge. Locating the owners can sometimes be a challenge, so special forces have been hired…”

KLM managed to reach millions with the bogus beagle story, virtually for free — even before it appeared as a paid advertisement.

The advertising agency explained their creative process as follows:

“We were told that the members of KLM’s Lost & Found team sometimes track down passengers before they even realize they’ve lost something,” “We feel they are a bit like detectives. So to illustrate that KLM goes above and beyond for their passengers, we decided to involve a search dog.”

On one hand, you’ve got to admire their ability to get so much ink — I mean so many hits — without spending a dime.

On the other hand, should we really trust a company that’s pulling the wool, or in this case fur, over our eyes?

(Woof in Advertising is an occasional feature on ohmidog! that looks at how dogs are used in advertising. For more Woof in Advertising posts, click here.)


Air Canada manages to lose a dog, rip the media and bash a country — all in one week

larryHere’s a dog story that proves accidents can happen, and then happen again.

Usually it’s no big deal, but when it’s an airline making the mistakes,  and they’re strictly the result of carelessness, we have to wonder a bit.

In this case, the first boo boo came when an Air Canada employee in San Francisco decided that, due to a flight delay, a dog being flown to a new adoptive home in Canada needed a potty break. When he let the Italian greyhound out of his crate, Larry escaped.

Jutta Kulic, while attending a dog show in Sacramento, had dropped Larry off at the San Francisco airport. She zip-tied the crate, and instructed the airline not to open it for any reason. Larry, who belonged to a friend of Kulic’s who died of cancer, was on his way to a new home — or so she thought.

That flight ended up being delayed, and later that night, Kulic received a call from Air Canada telling her Larry had run away.

After talking with Kulic about what had happened, CBS13 in Sacramento reached out to Air Canada (that’s what TV news people do these days, “reach out”) which generally means sending an email. 

That’s when the airline made its second blunder.

The email an airline representative sent to the station, apparently accidentally, wasn’t meant for public consumption. Instead, it was an internal exchange about how to handle the media inquiry:

“I think I would just ignore, it is local news doing a story on a lost dog,” read the email from Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick. “Their entire government is shut down and about to default and this is how the US media spends its time.”

Later the airline sent another email to the station, this time with the requisite apologies and saying the incident was being investigated.

Kulic said she is afraid she’ll never see Larry, who is brown and white and two years old, again.

But the family in Canada says they’re still hoping he might be found and delivered to them.

Delta Air Lines stops flying bulldogs

Your bulldog is no longer welcome on Delta Air Lines, and it’s for their own good.

As we reported last summer, short-snouted dogs run a far higher risk of death when it comes to air travel, with bulldogs heading the list of cargo hold fatalities, according to federal government statistics.

Bulldogs, pugs and other snub-nosed breeds for whom its harder to take in oxygen accounted for about half of the purebred dog deaths on airplanes in the past five years, the data showed.

Since then two air lines have stop accepting bulldogs as passengers, most recently Delta, which based on its review of animal incidents last year, has opted to no longer carry American, English and French bulldogs.

Of the 16 pets that died on Delta flights in 2010, six were bulldogs.

Animal advocates are praising the decision, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

“We’re pleased that Delta is being attentive and responsive to the particular animal welfare concerns with bulldogs,” said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the Humane Society of the United States. Shipping pets in cargo holds “really should only be a last resort, when absolutely necessary,” he said.

Other major carriers have restrictions on bulldogs and some other breeds, or decline to carry any pets in their cargo holds. AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines only accept pets that fit in under-seat carriers. American Airlines stopped carrying snub-nosed dogs and cats last November.

Delta had already restricted a wide range of snub-nosed breeds from flying in hot weather, including pit bulls, pugs and Persian cats.

U.S. Department of Transportation data shows that 122 dogs died on airlines from May 2005 to May 2010. Of those, 25 were English bulldogs and six were French bulldogs.