A dog had died on March 12, 2018 after United flight attendants forced his family to stuff it in an overhead cabin for a three hour flight.
The puppy, named Kokito, was a young 10 month old French bulldog and was in a TSA-compliant air carrier. The flight attendants insisted that his family put him in the overhead luggage compartment for the three hour duration of the flight. The woman who, who had two young children (a toddler and another young daughter ) was reluctant to do so, but the United flight attendants assured her that the dog would be safe and that she had to place her puppy there. This is despite United’s pet policy stating “A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times.”
Passengers heard the black French bulldog barking initially during the flight, but that eventually stopped. Upon landing, they were horrified to learn the animal had passed away during in the trip. The mom (Catalina Castano) tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate her pup while people watched on helplessly.
Another passenger on the same flight, Gremminger said that the owner was adamant about not putting her dog in the overhead bin, but the flight attendant continued to ask the passenger to put the dog in the carrier and place it in the cargo hold.
June Lara, who was on the same flight, stated on a facebook post:
“There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel. There was no movement as his family called his name. I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10 month old puppy. I cried with them three minutes later as she sobbed over his lifeless body. My heart broke with theirs as I realized he was gone.”
United confirmed that the dog did indeed die on one of its flights because it was placed in the overhead bin and accepted all responsibility along with issuing their apology.
“This was a tragic accident that should have never occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin,” United said in a statement. “We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”
According to Department of Transportation statistics on animal incidents on U.S. carriers, United has the highest rate of incidents involving loss, injury or death of animals during air transportation, with 2.24 incidents every 10,000 animals transported.
At the time of this writing, there has been no word of any disciplinary action being taken by United against any of the attendants involved. A call to United directs concerned people to write an email to Media.firstname.lastname@example.org