United Airlines finds itself in hot waters again as social media users are outraged over reports that a dog died on one of its flights on Monday after being put in an overhead bin. The airline was forced to release a statement assuming “full responsibility” for the incident.
A passenger first shared a graphic post on Facebook narrating the incident that sparked fury among many social media users. The passenger named June Lara said that a mother and her two daughters were boarding a flight with a black French bulldog when a flight attendant told them that the dog would need to be in the overhead bin.
Lara said she sat behind the family and heard when the flight attendants of Flight UA1284 “felt that the innocent animal was better off crammed inside the overhead container without air and water.” She added: “They insisted that the puppy be locked up for three hours without any kind of airflow. They assured the safety of the family’s pet so wearily, the mother agreed.”
Another passenger Maggie Gremingger told media that she heard the dog barking from the overhead bin for at least 30 minutes during the flight before the mother went to get the dog when the plane landed only to heartbreakingly discover that the dog was dead.
The witnesses said the flight was from Houston’s George Bush International Airport to LaGuardia Airport in New York. The flight took four and a half hours.
United Airlines said in a statement shared to media: “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.”
A spokeswoman for United Airlines, Maggie Schmerin, said they have been in contact with the passenger who owned the dog and offered to “pay for a necropsy, an autopsy for animals.”
United Airlines is listed in the Department of Transportation as having the highest rate of airline reports on incidents involving loss, injury or death of animals during air transportation. 40 incidents of animal loss, injury or death while on board flights were reported in 2017, 18 of which involved animals’ death on United Airlines.