United Crew Joking About Killing Dogs

Graham McTavish stars in the Starz seres Outlander. He’s appeared in Rambo, Lost, and Prison Break. And he’s had it with the flights he took last week on United.

It’s bad enough United killed a dog in the overhead bin last week. His crew was joking about it.

And flying Chicago – Vancouver up front he got “If you want lunch you’d better get that table out” — these were exactly the crew I was talking about yesterday when I wrote Passengers Just Want to Be Treated Like Human Beings — Not Self-Loading Cargo, that “whether or not flight attendants seek to engage each passenger or whether they’re actively avoiding engaging with each passenger individually” may be the single most important thing after the seat in determining what kind of flight you have.

Graham McTavish at the Los Angeles premiere of ‘The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies’, Copyright: buzzfuss / 123RF Stock Photo

United Airlines “will investigate” but all they’ll find is that they provided United service.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I flew twice on United this week, and had FABULOUS flight crews.

    I do have to wonder about a dog owner who would put their pet in the overhead bin, AND then would leave the pet in the overhead bin, when you had the proper carrier, and the pet was of the proper size. In all the conversations on this topic I have had with people this week….. this story just does not add up.

  2. Like any service company, there are going to be some bad eggs. I fly United and their partners almost exclusively, with Platinum status, and always fly up front, and since Smisek was defrocked, I’ve found that the service is largely excellent. I was with United flying LAX-EWR-DCA (which turned into LAX-EWR-IAD) during the huge Nor’easter a couple of weeks ago. We were one of the last flights into EWR without a delay, but by the time we got there, planes were not taking off.

    First, United proactively got us on a IAD flight, since all of the DCA flights were cancelled and at least a few of the IAD flights were still going to go.

    Second, despite ATC/weather delays beyond United’s control, including 3 trips to the runway with the hopes that the winds would die down for a few minutes so that a few planes could get out, multiple se-icings, 7 hours of delays, 2 deplanings, and changing crews when certain folks timed out, all of the United staff was great. They kept us updated, made sure that we had drinks and snacks, and kept everyone in good spirits.

    It’s easy to go after the low-hanging fruit with a couple of really unfortunate incidents, but for the most part, I’ll take a United crew over the never-pleasant folks at AA and the butt-clenchingly wound-up-too-tight folks at DL.

  3. I’ve flown United more than any other carrier, and most of the time it seemed like stories are overblown. But I’m really starting to see things differently. After great service on my last few flights (Delta and Alaska) contrasted with a bad United trip in the same general window, I really may shy away from them. All the events this past week and the stats that they statistically kill more dogs on average is pretty alarming. Their “investigations” don’t seem to change anything.

  4. I’m adding a new oxymoron to my quiver…”United service.”
    Will go nicely with “Marital bliss” and “Army intelligence.”

  5. UA FA claims she didn’t know that there was a dog inside @ the time she instructed pax to put bag up into overhead bin. Hearing this makes the most sense. Otherwise, its hard to believe anyone would think a small dog could survive. So sad.

  6. I’m actually starting to feel bad for United… I’m AA my few UA flights have been just fine.. I worked in hotels/restaurants for years and really bad stuff happens and people joke about it. They shouldn’t and certainly not within earshot of a customer. Bad stuff happens, UA can and should do better, certainly get better at responding to these incidents right out of the gate… That being said I seem to recall some critical coverage of AA when the NAACP called them racist or whatever and people being upset they responded to that with more or less an apology / we will do better… I don’t think we’ll ever find the perfect airline.
    Also I’m sure that FA feels awful about the dog dying and will carry that with them the rest of their lives. I know it’s not the same thing at all but I remember watching an interview with an FA who was on (I think UA 232) many years later
    recalling how she told a passenger to put thier
    baby on the floor (bc that’s what procedure called for) and the mother never saw the child again and the FA repeated what the passenger said “you told me to…” that poor FA will never forgive herself, even though she believed she was doing the right thing, that FA who instructed the passenger to put the dog in the overhead bin I am sure believed they were doing the right thing and it will haunt me them forever. Bottom line, it’s awful, I feel bad for everyone but I also don’t believe UA is trying to destroy people’s lives.

  7. The follow-up comment to the “trays down” announcement on my recent UA flight was: “This is your last warning – no tray, no food.” How I hate this company.

  8. Unfortunately my experience with United is overwhelming in the negative. I travel a lot and there are times when I do not have choice to fly with other carriers. I always do when I have an option. In the last 15 flights with United, and most were either business or first class, the floors are filthy and debris is built up in the cracks of the areas where the seats are bolted; I am offered one type of food and then later am told, “Oh, there were only X of these from the galley, would you like something else”; my flight has been delayed or cancelled, my luggage has been lost (once for an entire Europe trip), and yes, there have been rude and abrupt flight attendants. I wish it were not so, not only for myself but for everyone else flying. United is below standard. The situation with the dog lingers with me. Now hearing about the jokes disgusts me.

  9. I usually do not fly domestically but had need to fly 4 United flights ORD-DIA.
    Service both in the air & on the ground was remarkably inconsistent — some employees helpful and others indifferent — and I am *gold and flew F part of the way. However flying the densified skies reminds me not so much of Greyhound (have not been on bus recently but don’t know that they have done this) but the Redline at rush hour. Like commuting, I don’t know how people live this way. Relatively short flight is more tiring than ORD-NRT on ANA. ANA economy is about equal to UA F.

    ps. Take Elway’s at DIA over United Club.

  10. Just wait until United FAs threaten to put you in the overhead bin for not following their directions.

  11. Overhead bin may be more preferable or else they can always reaccomodate you
    But u have to clean up your own blood afterwards
    Yet people keep flying them so it’s hard to have much sympathy
    I go out of my way all over the world to travel with preferred travel partners I can trust
    Even at higher expense and less time productivity on occasion
    The rewards are truly great and there is high satisfaction when u support a brand /carrier who gets it in any class of service and makes the experience so much better
    Of course occasionally we all bite the bullet and fly with evil back stabbing devil

  12. I have flown united during my career and will be a 3 milliom miler on my next flight. I have experienced all types of FA’s. The deal with the trays reminded me of several united flights over the years flying the pacific. I have had the FA stand by my business class aisle seat holding the table cloth and say the same thing. If you want to eat you to pull out the tray. They were too lazy to pull it out. On a pek-iad flight last January there was an old Chinese lady united FA who did that to me on both meal services. I tried get her name but her name tag was all in chinese characters. She also had bad body oder like she forgot to shower and we were on a 14 hour non stop flight. Now retired and am not required to fly united, once I finish my 3 million miler challenge i will have my 6 globals each year for life. When good business class fares in the future appear for asian carriers i will book with them.
    Also on inter asian flights with united local hires the service has been even worse. Bad attitudes and throw the food tray down get finished quickly so they can sit in the crew seat and relax for the next 2 hours of flight. I had this on every flight hkg-sin-hkg segments with united 895 and 896.

  13. First, the UA flight attendant, needs the benefit of the doubt. By now we would have heard more horror stories about her. None have turned up, so this was at worst an accident where multiple people could have intervened. United, on the other hand, needs to quantify what is unique about their culture that is creating one negative publicity event after another.
    They can begin repairs immediately, just like the bright bag solution, with their phone center. Book a nonrefundable ticket, call them up, and make a change after the nonrefundable time expires. That’s right… Figure out how to treat your customer that really dreads this call because it is painful to make a change and negotiate, i.e. beg for mercy, like a customer. You flew a pet on a chartered flight..that was purely show. Now it is time to follow through.

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