Dismal record with four-legged passengers for United Airlines
HOUSTON (FOX 26) - "I don't want anybody to suffer the same thing we're suffering right now," said Sophia Robledo. "It's horrible." The 11-year-old girl's French bulldog was fine in a carrier under the seat on the United Airlines flight from New York to Houston. But the return trip proved fatal for the little dog after his owner said a flight attendant made her place the dog in the overhead bin.
"No airline suggests that you put an animal in an overhead bin because there's no ventilation in that area," said FOX 26 News legal analyst Carmen Roe.
"It's like unbelievable how he had to suffer like that," said Robledo.
While United Airlines said it takes full responsibility, the company is now saying the flight attendant had no idea the carrier contained a dog.
"How couldn't she know?," asked Robledo. "We told her it was a dog and he barked too, It was pretty loud."
Roe said the not knowing it was a dog claim makes no sense with all the paperwork and procedures required to get a dog on a plane.
"I would be surprised to know that United Airlines could really get away with this notion that they didn't know an animal was on that flight or where on the flight this animal was located," said Roe.
United Airlines admits it mistakenly put a German Shepherd on a flight to Japan. That dog's owner said the company tried to give them a Great Dane when they showed up for their dog.
"At this point, all I can do is be hopeful that my dog is going to be OK and return safely," said Kara Swiindle. "I can't cry anymore, I've cried too much."
"If you read the literature, they tell you that you're not entitled to have your animal with you on the same flight that you're on," said Roe. "You're animal could be on any number of flights."
The Department of Transportation says United Airlines led all other U.S. carriers when it comes to pets dying on their aircraft in the period from 2015 to 2017.
But United Airlines points out that it flies more pets than the others and some of the pets that died on United flights had pre-existing medical ailments.
"At the end of the day, you don't have control over your animal in those times and when something really awful happens, the best you can hope for is money damages and that's not going to sit well with people who really care about their animal and want to make sure they get from one place to another safely," said Roe.