United Airlines is halting the shipment of pets in airplane cargo holds while it studies improvements, the carrier said on Tuesday, after the death of a puppy and mistakes in handling other dogs last week sparked negative publicity.
"We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care".
United will honor reservations that have already been confirmed for PetSafe, its program for pets traveling in cargo, the airline said Tuesday. In addition to animal deaths, United has also misplaced two dogs traveling by cargo in the past week alone.
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United told the Chicago Tribune that all three dogs were reunited with their owners and all 33 passengers aboard the diverted flight to St. Louis were compensated for the inconvenience. We expect to complete our review by May 1, 2018.
United has also announced that pets traveling in an aircraft's cabin will be marked with brightly colored bag tags to ensure they are not mistakenly placed in the overhead bin.
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Though United is temporarily pausing its program for pets traveling in cargo, the suspension will not affect pets that are traveling with their owners in cabins.
He also said the carrier will give crews more advance warning about the number and type of animals flying in cargo for each flight, and ramp supervisors will be required to oversee the loading and unloading of animals, while another official will have to certify that all the animals were handled properly before the flight takes off.
United carried about 42 percent more animals in the cargo hold in 2017 than in 2015, and it accounted for about 27 percent of all animals U.S. airlines transported a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
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