United Airlines has boasted about its special PetSafe animal transport facility at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago - but the company is now temporarily suspending its PetSafe program in the wake of recent high-profile incidents involving dogs that were shipped to the wrong location. While United reviews everything, the airline will not be accepting any new reservations for pets traveling in cargo, but it will honor existing reservations. The most tragic involved a pet travelling in the passenger cabin that died after being placed in an overhead bin on a Houston-New York flight on 12 March.
United Airlines is making some major changes to its pet transportation policy.
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. The Humane Society of the United States generally recommends against having your pet fly in the cargo compartment.
In addition to conducting a review, United recently updated its guidelines for dogs traveling in bags.
"It is to further minimize risk and further increase the comfort and well-being of the animals that we carry and finding the best way to do things". The suspension does not affect pets traveling with their owners in the cabin.
The airline carries more animals in cargo than any other US carrier - about 138,000 previous year. Passengers traveling with their pets inside the cabin will not be impacted by the decision.
United Airlines is putting dog-shipping on hold while it investigates a series of mishaps.
"Our immediate focus right now is improving our services for our customers and pets", Hobart said.
"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.