A dog died on a United Airlines flight during which it was stored in a passenger’s overhead compartment. According to a report in The New York Times, witnesses said a flight attendant had ordered the pet owner to put the dog in the compartment before the plane took off. The black French bulldog that was traveling in a pet carrier was placed in the compartment shortly before United Flight 1284 left Houston for New York the evening of March 12.
Horrific Incident Unfolds
Maggie Gremminger, who was seated behind the pet owner, told the Times that the pet owner was “very adamant” and did not want to put her dog in the overhead compartment. But the flight attendant insisted saying that the pet carrier was a tripping hazard. Eventually, the pet owner put the pet carrier containing her dog in the overhead compartment.
Gremminger said the owner did not check on her pet during the flight because she was attending to her two children, one of whom was an infant. The dog died during the flight. Gremminger said the dog’s owner was visibly upset as she gasped and sobbed on discovering her dog had died during the flight. She then collapsed to the floor, rocking back and forth while clutching the dog’s body, her fellow passenger said.
United has apologized for the horrific incident saying that putting animals in the overhead compartment is against the airline’s policies. Under United’s policies, pets are required to travel in carriers that must fit under the seat in front of the pet owner and remain there at all times. The airline has said it is looking into who put the dog in the overhead compartment and why. A spokeswoman said the airline accepts “full responsibility for this tragedy.” The dog’s death is the latest in a series of alarming customer service incidents for United. Last year, a passenger was dragged off a flight screaming and injured.
Our heart goes out to this family that has lost a beloved pet, apparently because of the flight attendant’s actions. It is a good thing that United Airlines has assumed responsibility and has promised to support the family. When it comes to the law, pet owners cannot file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of a pet.
Under the law, pets are viewed as personal property. So, if your pet is injured on a flight, you can seek compensation for veterinary bills or other expenses you incurred. If you lose a pet, you may be able to seek compensation for your emotional distress. We hope United is held accountable for this incident and that United and other airlines make sure this type of tragedy never occurs again.