April 25, 2018
Business

United Suspends Pet Service Following Multiple Animal Deaths

United Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at San Francisco International Airport on July 8, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Thousands of United Airlines passengers around the world were grounded Wednesday due to a computer glitch. An estimated 3,500 were affected. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Photo of Katie Jerkovich

9:35 PM 03/20/2018

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United Airlines announced Tuesday that it was suspending its pet cargo service, Pet Safe, following multiple animal deaths, according to MarketWatch.

“We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care. 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,” a statement from the airline read.

FILE PHOTO: A United Airlines Boeing 767-322(ER) aircraft takes off from Zurich Airport January 9, 2018.   REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

A United Airlines Boeing 767-322(ER) aircraft takes off from Zurich Airport January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

“While we are doing this review, effective immediately we will not accept any new reservations for PetSafe, our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment,” the company added. “We expect to complete our review by May 1, 2018.”

“We will honor any existing PetSafe reservations confirmed as of March 20, 2018, although we will assist any customer that wishes to cancel their reservation,” the statement continued. “In the meantime, we are proactively reaching out to customers with confirmed reservations between today and May 1 to inform them of this announcement and explain what this means for their travel.”

“This suspension does not affect pets that travel with us in the aircraft’s cabin,” the statement read. “We are also reviewing this service and have already announced that beginning in April we will issue bright colored bag tags to help better identify pets who are traveling in-cabin.”

United had more animal deaths on its flights than any other airline in 2017, with 18 deaths up from nine the year prior. The next closest airline, American, had just two deaths.

The announcement comes as the airline reels from the backlash in response to the death of a French bulldog last week after a flight attendant insisted the dog be placed in the overhead compartment.

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