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Tag: united airlines

United to halt shipping dogs as cargo

031818-dog-killed-unitedUnited Airlines is suspending its pet-shipping service and reviewing safety procedures after a string of embarrassing mix-ups last week.

The airline will honor existing reservations for dogs to travel as cargo.

But it won’t be accepting any new pet reservations until the review is completed in May.

“We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets,” the airline said in a statement.

The move will not affect pets flying in the cabin with their owners.

The airline shipped at least three dogs to the wrong destination in the past week. A Kansas City-bound German shepherd was shipped to Japan after he was mixed up with a Great Dane who was supposed to be sent to Japan. Days later, United diverted a plane to Akron after realizing it had mistakenly loaded a dog aboard the flight from Newark Airport to St. Louis.

And in an earlier, highly publicized mistake, a family says they were forced by a flight attendant to load the carrier their French bulldog was in into an overhead bin.

The dog died before the Houston-to-New York City flight landed.

United, which took full responsibility for the death, claimed the flight attendant “did not hear or understand” the family’s protests.

In addition to reviewing its cargo procedures for pets, the airline is also reviewing its service for in-cabin pets, and it plans to issue brightly colored tags to better identify them in carriers starting next month.

Last year, United reported the deaths of 18 animals on its planes, far higher than other major airlines, according to the Department of Transportation.

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)