United Airlines Pauses Cargo-Hold Pet Transport After Missteps

United Suspends Cargo Program for Pets

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 compensated the passengers on that flight for the diversion, although it's unclear how they were compensated.

These incidents followed a Monday public relations nightmare in which a French bulldog puppy died after a United flight attendant ordered the owner to put the dog's carrying case in overhead storage during the 3-1/2 hour flight.

United said it will partner with "independent experts" in pet safety, comfort, and travel in order to achieve this outcome. The "PetSafe" program only applies to cargo travel, meaning passengers can still bring domesticated pets in aircraft cabins.

Although there were no animal-related disturbances on the vast majority of United flights, Mr. Hobart said, the airline wants to ensure that all pets travel safely and without incident. "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".

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Representatives for American Airline and Delta Air Lines said the carriers were not planning any changes to their policies for transporting animals in cargo. See NerdWallet's guides for flying with dogs or cats.

The suspension will not impact pets traveling in the cabin. And not all airlines will transport dogs as cargo: Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways, for example, offer only in-cabin flights, for small dogs and cats.

Last year, United reported the deaths of 18 animals on its planes, far higher than other major carriers, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Irgo the German shephard was flying as cargo from Portland to Kansas City when a mix-up sent him to Japan.

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