It has not been a good week for the public relations department of United Airlines, especially when it comes to traveling pets. Just a few days after a French bulldog died in an overhead bin, the airline is coming under fire for mistakenly sending a dog bound for Kansas to Japan. Kara Swindle and her husband were flying from Portland, Oregon to their new home in Wichita, Kansas when their 10-year-old German Shephard was not correctly moved at the airport in Kansas City. The Swindle’s dog, Irgo, was mistaken for a Great Dane traveling to Japan and Irgo landed hours later in Tokoyo. After being inspected by a veterinarian in Japan, Irgo was flown back to his owners on a private corporate jet, arriving more than 48 hours later.
Two days after Irgo’s mix-up, United was forced to make an unplanned landing in Ohio after it was discovered it was carrying a dog that was put on the wrong aircraft. United has since announced the suspension of its PetSafe program, while it reviews the practices it uses in transporting animals. This suspension only applies to those animals that are kept in the cargo space, and not those that travel in the overhead bins. The review is expected to be complete by May 1, at which time United will announce how it will proceed. In 2017, United accounted for only one-quarter of all of the nation’s animal flight transports, however, the airline logged three-quarters of all deaths incurred to those animals. It has been a rough year for the United Airlines public relations department and these latest pet issues are only going to exacerbate the problem.