United seems to have a disproportionate number of incidents of pets dying in their care. I’ve written about why I wouldn’t trust United Airlines with my own dog.
They reportedly locked the World’s Biggest Rabbit in a freezer for hours and them cremated it without permission. A dog died while traveling United when an agent’s mistake meant that the dog traveled 20 hours longer than expected. Then they mixed up two dogs and sent each one to the wrong city. Fame doesn’t help, they lost Grammy-nominated hip hop artist Schoolboy Q’s dog.
The latest story out of United is just horrible, a flight attendant who forced a passenger to put her dog in the overhead bin. The dog died. And United says they’re totally at fault.
A woman boarded United fight UA1284 from Houston to to New York’s LaGuardia yesterday with her small dog in a carrier. And thinks went horribly wrong. A passenger who witnessed the event writes
I witnessed a United flight attendant instruct a woman to put her dog carrier with live dog in an overhead bin. The passenger adamantly pushed it, sharing verbally that her dog was in the bag. The flight attendant continued to ask the passenger to do it, and she eventually complied. By the end of the flight, the dog was dead. The woman, crying in the airplane aisle on the floor.
She adds, “I head the dog barking a little and we didn’t know it was barking a cry for help. I am so heart broken.”
So Much for United’s “Pet Safe” Pledge
This witness shares that United employees were “all shocked, concerned and trying to gather information” after the dog was found dead. United took down her information, “offered me and the other witness gentleman each $75 credit” which they refused.
I’m not sure what the $75 was for, turning them into paid witnesses? If it’s to compensate for emotional distress well, then, that seems awfully low (and in United credit, not cash as well — it wouldn’t even cover United’s pet in cabin fee for a pet that isn’t claimed to be an emotional support animal).
The crazy thing is that United has even been asked about pets in the overhead bin before and said they “would work with the customer to be reseated to a seat where the carrier would fit” rather than require a pet go in an overhead compartment. Oops.
A pet should fit underneath the seat if traveling as ‘pet in cabin’. If they do not, the passenger needs a different seat with more under seat space or they shouldn’t be permitted to travel with the pet which is larger than published allowable size (or whose carry bag is larger). If they are an emotional support animal they can sit on the passenger’s lap or stand on the floor. There should not be a reason why a pet has to go up into the overhead bin.
United agrees. They shared the following statement, taking full responsibility for the incident,
This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.
Here’s the passenger who lost her dog after the flight. Terrible.
— MaggieGremminger (@MaggieGrem) March 13, 2018
(HT: Meagan T.)