A dog died aboard a United Airlines plane Monday, after passengers say a fellow flyer was forced to stow her dog in the overhead bin for the duration of the flight.
United Flight 1284 from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport to New York’s LaGuardia Airport was rocked by the tragic accident, according to passenger Maggie Gremminger, who tweeted about the event. She said a flight attendant “pushed” the pet owner to put her small dog in the overhead bin. The dog was in a TSA-approved pet carrier, according to The Points Guy. When the flight was over, the passenger found the dog had died.
A spokeswoman for United said the airline is conducting a full investigation into the matter.
“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin,” she stated. “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.”
Small pets are allowed to fly aboard airlines in approved carriers. United’s website says that pets that come on a plane must remain under the seat in front of the customer throughout the flight. It makes no mention of ever putting an animal in the overhead bin, which lacks proper air circulation for a living creature, according to The Points Guy.
The news comes less than a year after United faced highly publicized pet deaths on its flights during a tumultuous customer service year for the airline.
A giant bunny, which was expected to grow to be the world’s largest rabbit, was found dead in a plane’s cargo area in April 2017. In August, a family’s 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Lulu died in a plane’s cargo area. That flight had also departed from Houston.
Data from the Department of Transportation shows United Airlines had the highest record for pet deaths among U.S. airlines in 2017 and 2016. In 2017, a total of 18 pets died and 13 were injured among 138,178 total pets transported by United Airlines.