United Airlines suspends PetSafe program after series of mishaps
In the wake of a rash of incidents surrounding pet travel on United Airlines flights, the company announced Tuesday it is putting its PetSafe program on hold.
“We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care,” United Airlines said in a statement. “We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets.”
The PetSafe program allows United passengers to ship pets as cargo for a fee.
United says it will reach out to independent experts to seek ways to improve the program.
WATCH: Dog mistakenly sent overseas by United Airlines returned to Kansas family
United says it will honour reservations confirmed as of Tuesday and says it will reach out to customers booked up until May 1 to “explain what this means for their travel.”
Last week, a 10-year-old German shepherd named Irgo was accidentally shipped to Japan.
United chartered a flight to send the dog back to its owners in Kansas.
Two days later, a flight from Newark, N.J., to St. Louis had to be diverted to Akron, Ohio, after a dog was mistakenly loaded aboard.
WATCH: United passenger reacts to finding puppy dead after being stored ‘like a bag’ in overhead bin
Last Monday, a French bulldog puppy died in-flight after a flight attendant ordered it to be stowed in the overhead compartment.
United promotes its PetSafe program, and the airline carried more animals in cargo than any other U.S. carrier — about 138,000 last year. In 2017, 18 animals died in United’s care, accounting for 75 per cent of all such deaths on U.S. airlines.
United is not the only airline to make mistakes while handling pets. Over the weekend, Delta Air Lines apologized after sending an eight-week-old puppy to the wrong destination.
*With files from Associated Press