Well that didn’t take long. Two Senators are grandstanding on this week’s death of a pet onboard a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York LaGuardia. It’s said one bad story makes a regulation and two makes a law, Senators Kennedy and Mastro are skipping over the regulation part.
They want to make it illegal to put pets in the overhead bin. There has been exactly one recent story of it happening, and that incident though horrible was an aberration. And they’ve filed legislation the same week of the incident, rather than taking time to understand the problem or craft a solution that ties to it.
Most pets are fine, it’s generally pets traveling as cargo where there’s a problem, and even there it’s mostly a United problem, and he’s not seeking to tackle broader issues of how pets travel on airlines where we could at least discuss if other problems include overregulation via the Air Carrier Access Act (emotional support animals).
I will be filing a bill tomorrow that will prohibit airlines from putting animals in overhead bins. Violators will face significant fines. Pets are family.
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) March 14, 2018
Senators John Kennedy and Catherine Cortez Mastro introduced the Welfare Of Our Furry Friends Act. Yes, “WOOFF.”
Animals aren’t supposed to go in the overhead bin. United had stated that before. If they are traveling as pet in cabin they have to go in underneath the seat in front of the passenger. If they are an emotional support animal they can go in a lap or stand on the floor. In neither case is procedure to put them in the overhead bin. That was a mistake, and not something we hear about happening with any regularity.
United claims the flight attendant didn’t know there was a dog in the carrier. That doesn’t seem super plausible, and contradicts eyewitness accounts. United also says pets are going to get bright tags to make it easier for flight attendants to be aware of the contents and ensure they don’t instruct passengers to kill their pets.
Without a new federal law a criminal investigation is already underway in Texas where the plane boarded.
Of course deferring to existing law to even determine whether a crime was committed, let alone stopping to understand the problem they’re trying to legislate against, would get between Senators and media opportunities — something that’s often considered the most dangerous place to be in Washington.