Dog Died on Plane After Being Placed in Overhead Bin

A dog died on a United flight after a flight attendant reportedly insisted the owner place the animal’s carrier in the overhead luggage bin.

How’d you like to find out that a dog died on the flight you were on? How’d you like it if it were your dog?

A French Bulldog puppy was in an FAA-approved soft carrier when a flight attendant told the dog’s owner the carrier would have to go in the overhead bin, various news outlets have reported.

“They INSISTED that the puppy be locked up for three hours without any kind of airflow. They assured the safety of the family’s pet so wearily, the mother agreed,” a fellow passenger claimed in a Facebook post about the incident. (I didn’t embed the actual post because contains a photo of the dead dog still in its soft carrier; here’s the link to the full post but the content could be very disturbing.)

United Airlines released a statement about the incident, saying, in part, that the incident “was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin.”

I can’t imagine what anyone would be thinking to require a living animal be shut up in one of those cramped luggage lockers in a plane. There’s no airflow. And a French Bulldog is one of those breeds of dogs with short muzzles that are already subject to breathing problems; introducing such a breed into a small space without airflow just seems to be to be such an obviously lousy idea that I can’t come up with a reason someone wouldn’t see the potential issue.

Unfortunately for air passengers, it’s a federal law that we obey the instructions of the flight crew. I’m not sure what would have happened if the owner of the dog had refused the instructions; she might have found herself arrested. But, the puppy might have survived the flight.

Airlines have a serious pet problem.

People who have pets — especially dogs — have very few options when traveling. If you’re flying, which is just about the only way to transport a pet other than driving to a destination yourself, the dog must be in a pet carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you. That has to be a small dog given the limited space under a seat. It’s almost laughable considering the ever-decreasing space aboard a plane.

The other option, for animals that won’t fit in a shoebox-sized container, it to ship them in the baggage compartment where the luggage goes and hope that the airline crew takes good care of the animal. My 92-pound Collie would have to be flown in the freight compartment. I’d be a nervous wreck for the entire flight.

Buses and trains don’t allow pets at all. You can’t buy an extra ticket for a dog on a plane, as far as I can tell, even in first class.

The exception to bringing a dog aboard a flight is if the dog happens to be an actual service dog. But people who are desperate to protect their dog’s life have faked the service animal certification just to get their dog safely with them in the cabin. That’s raised the ire of other passengers who don’t want to share the flight with a four-legged passenger. Some of them may have legitimate allergies to pet dander; all of them do not.

For pet owners, traveling by air with their beloved animals is a terrifying proposition. Last February, USA Today reported 53 animals had died between January 2012 and February 2017 on United flights, according to the Transportation Department’s Air Travel Consumer Report.

So what’s a pet owner to do? Apparently, either depend on driving yourself, no matter how far your travel takes you, or getting on a plane and hoping your pet doesn’t become the next statistic.

The former isn’t always practical. The latter is thoroughly unacceptable.

Airlines need to do better. Other modes of transportation do as well.

1 Comment

  1. I could not bring myself to read this article, I’m sorry. I cannot abide reading about injured or deceased animals. I just cannot deal with it at all.

    I don’t care one bit about anyone’s excuses or reasons – how can one be so stupid?! Would you place your baby in an overhead bunker? (If you say yes, please go to the police and give yourself up for being “felony-stupid”.) Ugh. I never want to know things like this!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.