According to data from the Department of Transportation, United Airlines experienced nearly twice the number of pet deaths of any other airline in 2017.
Air travel for pets can be dangerous, especially to breeds prone to respiratory issues, senior pets, or pets with unknown medical issues. Sadly, pet deaths do occur on airlines, even when preventative steps like veterinary examinations and careful handling on the airline are in place. But Department of Transportation data reveals concerning statistics: Last year more pet deaths occurred on United Airlines' cargo transportation program than on any other airline.
United Airlines first came under scrutiny when a rabbit died while being transported in the cargo area, which is where pets in the airline's PetSafe cargo program ride. Pets are also allowed to ride in the cabin, but generally must be kept in carriers underneath the seats. The recent death of a dog forced to ride in an overhead bin, plus the fact that the airline accidentally sent a dog to Japan instead of Kansas has landed United Airlines back in the news.
In 2017, United Airlines flew a total of 138,178 pets in the PetSafe program. Of those pets, 18 died and 13 were injured. Those numbers are more than twice that of American Airlines, which was the airline with the second highest number of pet fatalities in 2017. United Airlines also led with the number of pet deaths in both 2015 and 2016.
Want to keep your pet safe when flying? Start with a thorough veterinary exam and a discussion with your vet about the risks of flying. You'll need to carefully consider whether the risks of flying with your pet are worth the benefits. If you're not comfortable flying with your pet, then it's best to find an alternate mode of transportation.
When you do fly with your pet, always try to carry your pet with you in the cabin. You'll need to abide by the airline's rules for pet travel in the cabin, which will likely require that your pet be in a crate that fits underneath a seat. When your pet must travel in the cargo area, you lose your ability to monitor your pet, and must completely entrust his safety to the airline.
Have you ever flown with your pet? How did it go? Tell us in the comments below.
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