Criminal investigation launched into death of dog on flight

16 March, 2018, 01:56 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • United came under fire for Kokito's death. The airline lost 18 animals during transportation last year

A criminal investigation has been launched into a dog's death aboard a Houston-to-New York United Airlines flight.

The incident prompted shock, outrage and sadness, particularly after it emerged that a flight attendant had required the dog, a 10-month-old French bulldog, to be placed into the overhead bin, despite the family having followed all the rules about flying with a pet in an airliner's cabin - including using a TSA-approved pet carrier.

This time the Chicago-based company is taking heat after it apologized for the death of a dog that was put - at the instruction of a flight attendant and in violation of airline policy - in an overhead compartment.

In a statement, United spokesperson Maggie Schmerin said the airline is "thoroughly investigating" what happened so that it never happens again.

United Airlines wrongly shipped a Kansas-bound pet dog to Japan, the second embarrassment this week for the airline and a "nightmare" for the Swindle family - who are moving from OR to Wichita with their beloved pet, a 10-year-old German shepherd named Irgo.

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According to Sophia, her mother asked if she could carry Kokito in her lap, but was told no.

"The problem is United has long had a culture that some might describe as not customer-oriented and others might describe as anti-customer", said Bruce Hicks, a former head of communications for Continental Airlines who has consulted for several airlines for more than a decade.

When they landed at LaGuardia, Kokito was dead. He said the airline refunded the tickets purchased for the dog owner and her two children and the fee that they paid to bring a pet on board - typically $200. "And we were like, 'It's a dog, it's a dog.' And she said, 'It doesn't matter, you still have to put it up there'".

On Sunday, Sophia Ceballos, her two-month-old little brother and their mother, Catalina Robledo, were flying to NY with their 10-month-old French bulldog, Kokito.

Irgo was mistakenly switched with another dog and put on a flight to Japan. They're trained to know what's safe and not safe during flight.

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"I'm hoping that from now on they take better care of animals. We express our deepest condolences".

In 2017, United had the highest number of animal deaths of any USA carriers, according to a Department of Transportation (DOT) report, with 18 animals killed and 13 injured in transport. Last year, a man was violently dragged out of a United Airlines flight.

The incident called United's track record with animals into question.

Of the 24 animals which died in the care of USA airlines past year 18 were handled by United, the report said.

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