United Airlines Temporarily Suspends Cargo Travel For Pets

The decision follows multiple pet-related mishaps, including the death of a puppy.

United Airlines is evaluating the way it handles pets after a string of animal-related mishaps last week — including one incident in which a puppy died in an aircraft’s overhead bin.

The company announced on Tuesday that it will temporarily stop taking new reservations for PetSafe, its program in which animals travel in the plane’s cargo compartment, until May 1. It will, however, still honor reservations that have already been made for the service.

“We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care,” the airline wrote in a post on its site. “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 week was an extraordinary bad week for pets flying on United. On Tuesday, a German shepherd wound up in Japan and a Great Dane flew to Kansas City, Missouri, after the airline mixed up their destinations.

On Thursday, a St. Louis-bound flight had to take a sudden detour when the airline discovered it had loaded a dog in cargo that was meant to go to Akron, Ohio.

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.

These hiccups, however, pale in comparison to a heartbreaking incident that occurred on Monday, when a 10-month-old French bulldog died after its owners said a flight attendant insisted the puppy and its carrier be stored in the cabin’s overhead bin and the animal suffocated.

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.

United’s announcement on Tuesday mentions that the company is reviewing its service for cabin-flying pets and will “issue bright colored bag tags to help better identify pets who are traveling in-cabin.”

When HuffPost asked United for additional information about pets flying in cabins, the company directed us to its detail about colored tags. The company also said the “flight attendant did not hear or understand” the passengers who were asked to store the carrier containing their puppy in the overhead bin, which United called a “tragic accident.”