United suspends pet cargo flights after multiple dog-related incidents

United Airlines stops taking pet-transport reservations after dog problems

In 2017, United had 18 pets die while being shipped in the cargo compartment under its "PetSafe" program, according to Transportation Department data. The news comes shortly after a United flight attendant reportedly told a passenger to place their dog in the overhead bin, resulting in the animal's death.

Since the death, the airline has mistakenly sent a dog bound for Kansas City to Japan, and diverted a flight to Akron/Canton after another dog was boarded on the wrong aircraft. It expects the review to be complete by May 1.

We will honor any existing PetSafe reservations confirmed as of March 20, 2018, although we will assist any customer that wishes to cancel their reservation.

We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care.

The airline says it's taking time to review its pet program to ensure incidents like these don't happen again.

United had the worst rate of pet deaths in 2017 of any US airline, according to the Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Report. In March, United and Delta started requiring customers with emotional support animals to bring more documentation about the animal's health and training after a rash of incidents including biting and soiled cabins.

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. The suspension will not affect pets traveling in the cabin. A flight attendant demanded that the dog's carrier be stored in the overhead compartment of the plane.

The bulldog was traveling in the cabin, not with the PetSafe program the airline is suspending, but United said it is also reviewing its service for in-cabin pets.

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.

In the past, the carrier has been willing to transport certain types of dogs with a particularly high likelihood of death or injury, including snub-nosed dogs.

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