United suspends pet cargo flights after series of pet-traveling disasters

Lloyd Doyle
March 20, 2018

"We are taking this voluntary action ..." The "PetSafe" program only applies to cargo travel, meaning passengers can still bring domesticated pets in aircraft cabins. But United won't accept any more reservations for pets until the review is completed, which is expected by May 1.

On Tuesday, the carrier announced it was suspending its animal-shipping cargo program as the company conducts a review. PetSafe fares are based on the combined weight of the animal and its shipping crate; for travel originating in the United States, for example, fares range from $201 for an under 10 lb. animal to $2,410 for a 350 lb. animal being sent to continental Europe or Hong Kong.

In this March 15, 2017, photo, people stand in line at a United Airlines counter at LaGuardia Airport in NY. Then the carrier mistakenly shipped a Kansas-bound dog to Japan, and in a separate incident, it had to divert another flight to Akron, Ohio, after the airline realized a pet had been loaded onto the flight in error. The detour added an additional two hours to what is normally a two-hour flight; United said its provided compensation to the passengers on board, but did not release specific details.

The latter has become a point of controversy for United and other airlines since emotional support animals don't require special training, just a note from a licensed medical professional stating that the animal is necessary to the passenger's mental and emotional health. In that instance, a flight attendant instructed the dog's owner to place the pet in an overhead bin instead of keeping it in its carrier under a seat.

United said it will honor any existing PetSafe reservations as of Wednesday. The German shepherd was returned safely to its owners in Kansas City March 15. "Our goal is to continue to ensure the safety and comfort of pets and all animals that fly with us". "This visual tag will further help our flight attendants identify pets in-cabin", a United spokesperson told ATW March 14.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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