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United Airlines

United Leaves Larger Dogs Without A Way to Fly

United Leaves Larger Dogs Without A Way to Fly
Jackie Reddy

The carrier says that it is conducting a review of its cargo hold pet travel program, but will honor any reservations made up through March 20. The review, which is due to be completed by May 1, comes in the wake of several high-profile incidents involving pets being transported by the carrier.

In a temporary move, United Airlines has announced that it will not be accepting any new reservations for passengers who want their pets to travel in the cargo hold area of its aircraft as part of its PetSafe program, reports. The carrier’s pet transportation policies have been under intense public scrutiny since last week, when it was revealed that a puppy put into an overhead compartment had died during a flight.

Just a few days after this, the carrier also admitted that several dogs had been transported to the wrong destinations, with the most notable case being that of a German shepherd that was accidentally flown to Japan instead of Kansas City.

United is working to review its current pet transportation policy in the wake of these mishaps, but will honor any reservations made up through March 20. The carrier said that it expects the review to be completed by May 1. It has confirmed that the suspension of this policy will not have an impact on those pets transported in the main cabin, where the carrier has said it would now require bags containing pets or animals to be brightly tagged.

Commenting on the temporary suspension of pets traveling in the cargo hold, United spokesperson Charlie Hobart said, “We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets. To achieve this outcome, we will partner with independent experts in pet safety, comfort and travel.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (11)


  1. edgewood49

    March 20, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    United should suspend all operations until they can figure out how to run an airplane and provide service

  2. sekhmet101

    March 22, 2018 at 3:20 am

    Agreed with the above. It just gets worse and worse.

  3. RooseveltL

    March 22, 2018 at 5:21 am

    That is an extreme comment. UAL has improved ontime performance and customer service so maybe they realize instead of continually receiving bad press for extras add-ons, simply simplify to what they do best – carry passengers and their bags to/from destinations or *A partner network.
    Sometimes humans lavish in beating a conglomerate, but there are consequences. E.g. After Dr. Lao – UAL no longer allows overbookings on planes. I’ve seen planes leave with empty seats during Hurricane Irma, but guess what no bad press for that even if someone was depressed to fly out. Now, no more pets in cargo transit temporarily, an article like this surfaces but once they clear up current bookings will no longer get negative headlines because of it. The consequences – if this was a % of revenue for the carrier anticipate regular customers will be forced to absorb higher fees/fares to balance it all out even if most travelers don’t have pets.Congratulations folks!

  4. KRSW

    March 22, 2018 at 5:52 am

    What a shame that United didn’t do similar in transporting bipedal mammals, which it has been abusing for years

  5. Ca77andra

    March 22, 2018 at 7:33 am

    They might reconsider when they realize how much money they’re making off this service. Also related are the gouging fees charged for in the cabin animals. Paying $125 ONE WAY for people to put a pet carrier under the seat in front of them is ludicrous. And they make very clear they have no liability for these animals. Unlike the liablity they have for luggage, etc on board.

  6. SamirD

    March 22, 2018 at 7:43 am

    United is a completely competent airline in my experience. If they were cheaper than aa on the legs I need, I would be flying with them more.

    I think the press is just trying to hammer this company because of the issue that happened on their flight when they took the appropriate action and the local police didn’t. Beating of the passenger wasn’t United’s doing, and yet they’ve been crucified over it for years now. (And removal of the passenger was United’s clear right as per the carrier agreement that everyone that flys is bound to.) If they really didn’t know how to run an airline, they wouldn’t exist anymore because the loss of sales would have put them under.

    They didn’t even have to talk about the pets that got misdelivered and were forthright and did so anyway.

    Besides, I’m sure some body sneaking in one of those undeclared ‘purse dogs’ (the ones you can fit in a purse), will cause a scene when it died in their purse and then blame United for that too even though technically the passenger was in violate of the ticketing agreement. People need to stop being emotional and look a the laws that govern everything first to determine what is legally right and wrong.

  7. CEB

    March 22, 2018 at 7:45 am

    What a brilliant comment by edgewood49!

    From the headline I thought United finally woke up and decided not to allow pets in the cabin, which would have been a fantastic move! Even as a pet lover myself I do not believe they belong in an airplane … at all!!

  8. 4sallypat

    March 22, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Good comment CEB!
    Being a pet lover – I hate to be a germophobe…
    Pets in the cabin should not be allowed as we are all going to breathe pet hair, pet dander and bacteria in addition to the skin cells of our fellow passengers.

    Pets should be put into a cargo hold or below deck in a dedicated area that has separate air filtration system!

  9. FlyingNone

    March 22, 2018 at 10:50 am

    “United Leaves Larger Dogs Without A Way to Fly”
    Oh well, I guess passengers will have to choose ANOTHER AIRLINE. Millions lost on United due to this decision. Maybe if they didn’t outsource their ramp people in many places this wouldn’t happen. Keep jobs in-house !!

  10. Dianne47

    March 22, 2018 at 11:24 am

    I’m a former airline employee and a dog owner, my goldendoodle weighs 70 pounds. There is no way on earth I would ever ship a dog by air. Just no way.

    I used to work for Continental at the gates in the (then) hub El Paso. If any passenger approached me and said they had a pet being loaded or transferred I would immediately go downstairs to operations, check on the kennel to be sure it was inside with A/C or heat and check again at departure time to be sure the kennel was on the right aircraft. Not one other agent every did this. And I can guarantee that gate agents never check on animals now.

    People shouldn’t ship pets by air. No airline ships pets in the summer. There are ground pet transportation services which take longer but are reliable.

  11. downinit

    March 22, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    I love my dogs more than almost any person I know, but no dog should be on a plane unless the owner is moving. At a minimum, the dog will not enjoy traveling anywhere near as much as the owners think it will. More likely, it will be a horribly traumatic experience for them. Dogs are great companions, but they are just as happy in respectable and well-run kennel as they are in the penthouse suite at the Ritz.

    And there is no reason to fly thousands of miles to get a horribly overpriced and often inbred specific trendy breed of dog, when thousands of perfectly healthy and loving dogs are being sentenced to death in one’s own backyard in overcrowded shelters (which could have been adopted for a very minuscule fee). Don’t call yourself a dog lover if you openly practice dog breedism. Picking a dog based on size and temperament is fine; picking one based the flavor of the day is just vanity and narcissism.

    This current obsession with the genetically defective and irresponsibly bred pugs and bulldogs is the worst dog trend yet. None of these dogs can breathe well due to our obsession with breeding based on appearance instead of health. These dogs have trouble breathing on a good day on the ground.

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