United bars pets in plane cargo holds until review completed

United Airlines suspends its cargo program for pets after a string of incidents leads to a review of the PetSafe program. A company announcement on Tuesday said the review is expected to be complete by May 1. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI

March 20 (UPI) — After a string of incidents involving pets, United Airlines said Tuesday will stop allowing passengers to transport animals in the cargo holds of its aircraft, pending a review.

The carrier said the review is expected to be finished by May 1. The suspension does not affect pets that travel in United’s passenger cabins, which require medical authorization.

“We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care,” United said in a statement. “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.”

Last weekend, protesters at New York City’s LaGuardia International Airport demanded justice for a French bulldog that died aboard a United flight last week after traveling in an overhead bin.

At the protest, legislation was unveiled to create a new bill of rights for animal travelers called Kokito’s Law.

A week earlier, a German Shepherd that was supposed to be flown to Kansas wound in up Japan and a Great Dane headed for Japan wound up in Kansas. United officials said the dogs became mixed up during a layover in Denver.

Last week, a United Airlines flight from Newark, N.J., to St. Louis was diverted when crew members realized a dog on the cargo should have been on a plane to Akron, Ohio. The canine was delivered to its owners and passengers on the diverted flight were compensated.

United Airlines said no new reservations will be accepted for the cargo program, called PetSafe, but the company will honor existing reservations confirmed as of March 20. United said it will also assist any customer that wants to cancel an existing reservation.

“We are also reviewing this service and have already announced that beginning in April we will issue bright colored bag tags to help better identify pets who are traveling in-cabin,” United said.


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