News North America

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Airline accepts 'full responsibility' after dog dies in overhead luggage bin

(Steve Parsons/PA)
(Steve Parsons/PA)

Chelsea Ritschel

United Airlines have accepted "full responsibility" for the death of a pet dog on one of their flights.

The airline said they have launched an investigation after an attendant forced the owners to put the 10-month-old dog in an overhead bin.

Onlookers reported seeing the puppy's owner cradling it in her arms and sobbing, after she discovered her pet was dead when the plane touched down at LaGuardia airport in New York.

Maggie Gremminger, a passenger on the flight from Houston, said a flight attendant told the passenger before take-off that she must put her dog in the overhead bin. She reluctantly agreed, and the dog was reportedly heard barking on takeoff and during some turbulence - before going silent.

United Airline has accepted "full responsibility" for the tragedy, and have launched an investigation.

Gremminger wrote: “I just flew into LGA and witnessed a United flight attendant instruct a passenger to put her dog bag in the overhead bin. It was clearly a dog and while the customer was adamant about leaving it under the seat, the attendant pushed her to do so.

“At the end of the flight, the woman found her dog, deceased. She sat in the aeroplane aisle crying, and all of surrounding passengers were utterly stunned.”

Gremminger then posted a photo of the grieving passenger and wrote: “I want to help this woman and her daughter. They lost their dog because of a United flight attendant. My heart is broken.”

Another passenger who was sitting behind the family and witnessed the incident, June Lara, also posted about the disturbing flight on Facebook.

According to Lara, the flight attendant “INSISTED that the puppy be locked up for three hours without any kind of airflow.

The puppy barked throughout the flight, according to Lara:“filling our flight with his cries until he finally ran out of breath.”

But “there was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel. There was no movement as his family called his name.”

Lara also posted photos of the dog, in which the 10-month-old puppy is shown laying lifeless in a dog carrier.

According to United’s website, the airline allows domesticated cats, dogs, rabbits and birds and “A pet travelling in a 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.”

The website does not say dogs will be placed in overhead bins in any situation.

The incident has incited outrage on social media - and many people are announcing they will be boycotting United as a result.

United Airlines has taken responsibility for the incident in a statement.

A spokesperson for the airline told The Independent: “This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. 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.”

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