United suspends new reservations for pets in cargo hold

United suspends new reservations for pets in cargo hold

The airline says it is conducting a "thorough and systematic review" for pets that travel in cargo and is partnering with independent experts in pet safety and travel.

Passengers can still carry small pets with them in carry-on luggage.

United said its suspension of the PetSafe reservations will continue as it reviews the service, which charges fees of up to several hundred dollars for a medium-size or big dog.

The second incident involved a PetSafe-fare dog accidentally shipped to Japan instead of Kansas City, Missouri, after a mix-up United said happened in Denver.

United expects to finish the review by May 1, though it did not indicate if it will reinstate PetSafe as soon as the review is complete.

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United transports the most animals out of any major carrier, and has the highest rate of animal deaths.

Another public relations fiasco had United weathering public ire and congressional hearings past year for having a man dragged off a plane.

United Airlines is the airline company with the most animal deaths in the past five years. The airline also was sued last summer over the death of a giant rabbit on a flight from London to Chicago. It is unclear how quickly the airline will restart its pet shipment program after the conclusion of the review. Customers who already made reservations by March 20 will still be able to transport their animals.

In another incident, Kokito, a 10-month-old French bulldog, died when a flight attendant mistakenly ordered a passenger to put the dog's container into an overhead bin March 12 during a flight from Houston to NY. The company has already announced that beginning in April, it will issue brightly colored bag tags to better identify animals that are traveling in-cabin. The family and other passengers dispute that account.

United's PetSafe program is an option for passengers with pets that are not eligible for travel in-cabin; animals travel in pressurized, climate-controlled compartments similar to passenger cabins.

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