United charges a lot of money to ship dogs, and promises on its website "industry-leading comfort and safety features." United hasn't always delivered, so it's probably time to press pause and figure out if there are endemic problems with the program.
The airline will review the procedures for its PetSafe program until May 1, including which breeds of dogs it will accept, according to a statement Tuesday. During that time, the carrier will honor existing reservations without accepting new ones for the service, which is for animals traveling in the cargo hold.
United announced the move following a bruising week of public-relations fiascoes involving pets. A French bulldog died March 12 after a flight attendant had the dog and its animal crate placed in an overhead bin. In a separate incident, the airline sent a Kansas-bound German shepherd to Japan. A U.S. senator said United’s handling of pets was “simply inexcusable,” saying 18 of 24 animals that died on a major airline last year were in the airline’s care.
Since the PetSafe service is for animals in the freight compartment, different procedures for the program wouldn’t have helped protect the bulldog, which died in the passenger cabin. United has already announced a plan starting April to issue brightly colored bag tags to identify in-cabin pets. The service suspension won’t affect those animals.
Among other issues under examination in PetSafe, United will consider which pets to accept, said Charlie Hobart, a spokesman for the Chicago-based airline. In the past, the carrier has been willing to transport certain types of dogs with a particularly high likelihood of death or injury, including snub-nosed dogs.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.
Photo credit: United Airlines is suspending its pet-shipping program just after it mistakenly sent one dog to Japan instead of Kanas. Ace Pet Moving/United Airlines