United Airlines apologises after a flight attendant insists the dog should travel in the compartment.
A woman flying with two children was distraught after realising that her dog had died by being stowed in the overhead compartment. She had been told to put it there by a flight attendant before take-off.
United Airlines has apologised for the incident in which the black French bulldog travelling in a pet carrier was placed in the compartment before departing Houston for New York on Monday.
A witness, Maggie Gremminger, who was sitting behind the passenger, said that a member of the crew had ordered the owner to put the dog there.
“The pet owner was very adamant that she did not want to put the pet carrier up above,” Gremminger told the New York Times. But the flight attendant insisted, as it was a potential hazard between the seats in the event of an emergency.
The owner did not check on the pet during the flight as she was busy with her young child. When she realised after the plane had landed that the dog had died she collapsed in tears.
United says that pets must travel in carriers that “fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times”, and animals must not be put in the overhead compartments. It is now conducting an investigation.
This is the latest in a series of customer service blunders for United, including a passenger being dragged screaming off an overbooked flight last year.
“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin,” said spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin. “We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them.”