A family dog died during a United Airlines flight this week after a flight attendant stuffed the animal into an overhead compartment for the entire four-hour flight, leaving the heartbroken family to find their dead pet when the flight touched down in New York.
As the New York Post reported, the flight attendant insisted that the woman keep the dog in the overhead bin for the flight from Houston to New York, even though this is against the company’s regulations. The small dog was inside a TSA-approved pet carrier, the report noted. Passengers said they could hear barking during the flight but apparently did not know that the dog was in danger.
When the flight ended, the woman retrieved the carrier to find that her dog had died during the flight.
The dog’s death caused a stir on social media, with a passenger named Maggie Gremminger sharing a picture of the dead dog on Twitter after the flight was over.
Another fellow passenger recounted the moment that the woman learned her beloved dog had died.
“There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel,” June Lara wrote in a Facebook post. “There was no movement as his family called his name. I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10 month old puppy.”
This is not the first time that United Airlines has come under fire online for its treatment of passengers and their luggage. Back in 2009, a passenger named Dave Carroll had his Taylor guitar destroyed by baggage handlers, and United declined to reimburse him for the damage.
So Carroll took to the internet, recording a song called “United Breaks Guitars” that racked up millions of views.
It was a devastating incident for United Airlines, with Chris Ayres of The Times Online (via The Huffington Post) estimating that the bad publicity cost United Airlines a total of $180 million — 10 percent of its market cap. As Carroll noted, that would have been enough to buy 51,000 replacement guitars for Carroll.
The airline is taking more swift action after the latest viral incident. After the dog’s death, a spokesperson for United Airlines said the dog’s death was a “tragic accident that should never have occurred” as pets are not allowed to be placed in the overhead compartment. The airline assumed full responsibility for the tragedy and said it would be supporting the family who lost their dog.