United to stop carrying animals in cargo compartments temporarily

United Airlines temporarily suspends transport of pets in cargo holds

The airline said it will stop accepting new reservations for its PetSafe program, though it will honor any reservations made through March 20, the airline said.

In the past few days, the airline put several dogs on incorrect flights, and earlier this month, a puppy died on a flight after a flight attendant told its owner to stow it in an overhead bin.

The announcement comes as the airline is facing a backlash following a series of pet-related mishaps.

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

For those who have an existing animal shipment reservation with United, the company also said it will "assist any customer that wishes to cancel their reservation".

The move does not affect pets flying in the cabin with their owners.




The airline says it's taking time to review its pet program to ensure incidents like these don't happen again. The Humane Society of the United States generally recommends against having your pet fly in the cargo compartment.

After the dog was sent to Japan, United chartered a private jet to return Irgo to his family. 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.

It's worth mentioning that this suspension does not mean pets can't travel within the main cabin, but United added that this service is also under review.

United spokesman Charles Hobart stressed that the airline is not ending the program as it consults independent experts in pet safety. The company has already announced that beginning in April, it will issue brightly colored bag tags to better identify animals that are traveling in-cabin. In 2017, airlines reported 24 deaths, 15 injuries and one loss in almost 507,000 animals transported, according to Department of Transportation data.

In 2017, of 24 animal deaths, 15 injuries and one loss among all 506,994 animals transported by US airlines, 18 deaths and 13 injuries happened on United flights, out of 138,178 animals the carrier transported during the year, according the US Department of Transportation.

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