United Airlines suspends program for pets flying in cargo compartments

Frederick Owens
March 21, 2018

On Tuesday, United Airlines announced that it would temporarily stop transporting pets in the cargo holds of its aircraft as it reviews its PetSafe program. While the review is being conducted, United will not accept any new reservations for pets traveling in cargo, but existing reservations will be honored.

United expects to finish the review by May 1, though it did not indicate if it will reinstate PetSafe as soon as the review is complete.

Already under scrutiny about a dog dying in an overhead bin and another dog being accidentally sent to Japan, United Airlines on Friday acknowledged its third animal-related mistake in a week.

The announcement comes after the airline mistakenly flew a German shepherd to Japan instead of Kansas and loaded another dog onto the wrong airplane.

The carrier said the review is expected to be finished by May 1.

Passengers who have already made arrangements by March 20 for their pets will be able to fly.

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Under the new rules, animals are not allowed in cabins outside carriers without documents certifying that they are in good health and have been trained to behave appropriately in public settings. Of the more than 500,000 animals on flights with American carriers, 24 died in transit; of those, 18 were on United, according to the federal Transportation Department. And not all airlines will transport dogs as cargo: Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways, for example, offer only in-cabin flights, for small dogs and cats.

Spokesman Charles Hobart said the airline will consult independent experts in pet safety and is not ending the program.

United's decision follows incidents last week in which dogs were mistakenly sent to incorrect destinations.

Of the 24 deaths of animals that occurred on major US air carriers previous year, 18 occurred on United.

The airline later said in a statement it accepted full responsibility for the pet's death and announced a new plan to issue brightly colored tags to customers traveling with pets. That said, United transported a greater number of animals than others, the data showed.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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