The ongoing story of airlines mishandling pets took another turn on Tuesday as United Airlines suspended carrying animals in cargo holds, according to USA Today.
United Airlines will temporarily not allow transport of animals after multiple mistakes last week involving pets.
Passengers who made arrangements by March 20 can still fly with their pets. But United will no longer accept reservations until the airline finishes reviewing its pet policy, USA Today reported.
“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,” the airline said in a statement, according to USA Today.
United carried the most animals in cargo among all airlines last year, carrying 138,178 out of 506,994. United has also had the most animal deaths over the past five years, with 18 out of 24 total deaths last year, USA Today reported.
United issued an apology for a separate incident last week that led to the death of a family’s puppy, too. According to NPR, a United flight attendant asked a family to place their 10-month-old puppy in an overhead bin, even though they were abiding by the company’s then-current policy that allowed pets to be brought onboard using a TSA-approved pet carrier.
The dog died during the three-hour trip from Houston to New York.
"This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as 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."
Issues regarding pets have been in the national headlines this week. On Thursday last week, a separate United flight traveling from Newark to St. Louis diverted to Akron, Ohio, after officials discovered a pet in the cargo area was scheduled to fly from St. Louis to Akron. The dog reunited with his family in Akron, according to CNN.
United Airlines came under fire again when it accidentally sent a dog across the world to Japan, the Deseret News reported. The dog, named Irgo, was originally bound for Kansas City. While making a connection in Denver, Irgo and another dog, a Great Dane, were accidentally swapped.
Kara Swindle and her family found a Great Dane in place of their German Shepherd when they arrived in Kansas City.
"They had no idea where the dog was," Swindle told CNN. "I burst into tears instantly because this has just all been a whirlwind. They didn't know (where Irgo was) until 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday when the plane landed in Japan."
A similar incident occurred on a Delta flight last weekend, too.