United Has Gone To The Dogs: Flight Diverted After ANOTHER Pet Is Loaded Incorrectly

United already had two highly publicized dog incidents this week:

Well, I guess we have to give United credit, because they went all of Wednesday without a highly publicized dog incident. They didn’t have the same luck on Thursday, though, as they had their third dog related incident of the week.

Yesterday United flight 3996 from Newark to St. Louis was diverted to Akron. Why? Because United had accidentally loaded a dog on the plane that wasn’t supposed to be on the flight. The dog was supposed to be flying to Akron, but instead was loaded onto a flight to St. Louis.

United, clearly terrified at the prospect of sending another pet to the wrong destination, diverted the flight to Akron to drop off the dog at its intended destination. The airline offered an undisclosed amount of compensation to all passengers onboard, per CNN.

The incompetence here is unbelievable, though I guess we at least have to appreciate that they’re now terrified of making another mistake. Earlier they flew home a dog from Japan in a private jet, and now they’re diverting flights to drop off dogs. Good on them for at least doing that, though unfortunately this doesn’t address the root of the problem.

United’s PetSafe program has the worst record of any US airline, as the airline is responsible for 75% of the deaths of all animals transported by US airlines. As I’ve said before, it’s time that the airline suspend their pet transport program if they’re not able to transport dogs in a safe and reliable manner.

Comments

  1. Staff must be terrified of layoffs by now. Even the unions can’t keep the staff, I would think.

  2. Lucky, Akron is CAK. However, it is ironic that you used AKC – American Kennel Club!

  3. I should clarify, CAK is the Akron area airport that the flight was actually diverted to. There is an AKC airport in the Akron area also

  4. I just changed my flight yesterday from EWR-DEN to LGA-DEN and at the end of the call to the Premier Desk they asked if there are any dogs I didn’t need any more.

    Also my aircraft got changed from a 757 to 737 and the 737 has really large bins. I think you could get a Collie in there, or two French Bulldogs.

  5. Key phrase: “The incompetence here is unbelievable”

    As it was numerous times I flew United … worst first class flight ever ex SEA… a nonstop from EWR to Honolulu on a filthy plane with no meal service because uh “domestic” flight … rudeness encountered in J ex SFO instead of “welcome onboard” etc.

    Decided this week based on your reporting not to do an open status challenge (could’ve flown SAN-PVG for $445 to get gold) because there can be no going back after this.

    Thanks again Ben for these reminders: “The incompetence here is unbelievable”

  6. The negative PR at United continues. How much more can they withstand before Oscar Munoz is fired? Heads need to roll at this out of control airline.

  7. Looking at the numbers, it seems that most people send their dogs/pets via United. One has to wonder how bad other US airlines are at transporting animals/pets that people prefer their pets on United. Transporting pets is probably one of those cases that involves friends recommending a service they’ve used before to other friends (pet owners).
    Or United probably has cheap fares for pets/very good marketing. But they do seem to own the market.

  8. AND that…ladies and gentlemen is how checked luggage get’s lost. Just sayin. Besides what are these pet care cargo people doing. Just circling the runway looking for random flights going to the right place? Crazy.

  9. “The incompetence here is unbelievable,”; respectfully, not at all unbelievable. this was united, a microcosm of america. home of the sizzle, no steak.

  10. I have to blame this on their Board of Directors. What are they waiting to fire the entire C-level team and start all over. The level of incompetency is just unreal.

  11. At this point you have to wonder if a competitor is bribing United ground crew to fuck up pet connections.

  12. I know you’re getting good mileage out of that 75% statistic, but it’s highly misleading to present it like that without context, and when you’ve demonstrated in the past that you don’t even understand the statistic you’re quoting. It’s a summary statistic for all animals transported in the hold for 2017. In 2017 United transported the majority of animals. In 2016 and 2015 Delta and American both transported a similar number of animals and had a similar number of deaths to United. They’ve both scaled back their animal transport programs, and subsequently have lowered their incident rates. If you’re very picky about the animals you transport, of course you will have lower incident rates, even if the handling is the same. If you’re less picky and have a couple of geckos out of a batch drop dead on you, then you get higher incident rates. It’s incredibly bad math, and bad journalism to keep trotting that stat out like it actually meant something or supported your stance. Should United reconsider their animal transit program? Maybe, but not based on anything in that DOT report.

  13. So United is like skiplagged.com for dogs now, buy a ticket for a different final destination and just get off early…

  14. @Zymm @Sam i am based in UK and i dont think our press will be biased with any US statistis but you dont have to be a Math genious to reach conclusion when United transported something like 27% pets but have 75% incidents???something wrong.
    I guess its more suitable to say something like blacks represent 27% of US population and commit 75% crimes so something wrong there.

  15. Incredible for all these to happen. Too much power to cabin crews, and yet totally no system in place. It should be straight forward for such a huge airline, yet it is running operations like amateurs.

    And no. The worst thing United can do is to suspend dog transportation. It would mean United is totally incompetent. They have to act as those were isolated incidents and it is extreme bad luck it happened in the same week.

  16. I like Oscar Muñoz. (Don’t know about Scott Kirby, but atleast on FlyerTalk people seem to not be fans). I think he’s a nice guy and he made several improvements to United, particularly reliability which was a major problem for them during the “Smisek era.”

    But, at what point do people not see that there needs to be another change at the top? UA is definitively the worst of the 3 when it comes to soft product, hard product, and customer service.

    Between this, the seemingly endless Polaris rollout, the overpromising/underdelivering with soft product, I don’t know if Oscar is the right person to lead the company.

  17. Would the dog’s thought process extend to: “we’re not in Kansas anymore; this looks like the Ginza ” ?

  18. Ah yes UNITED EXPRESS…………..EXPRESS……Did I mention this. Nice click bait tho with the headline. It’s like saying Singapore Airlines.

  19. Get out of the PET business!!!! Not worth it. I would also be very upset about being diverted because of an animal.

  20. @Zymm, nice try defending United. Alaska also carried a similar amount of animals to United and had far far less deaths. I think it was 1 or 0 I forget the chart.

  21. and until they get their act together they should agree to rebook those already confirmed on another airline of their choice and absorb any difference in cost if they wish. I wonder what UAL’s policy is for their employees’ viewing/using/texting with their cell phones while on active ramp duty? Perhaps the rampies making these costly mistakes are so absorbed with their media they’re distracted at the job-at-hand.

  22. “Who let the dogs out, woof, woof, woof woof” UA’s CEO must be knocking back some good meds right now.

  23. I don’t give a fig about United, but I do care about shoddy stats. Stats is my job and it drives me nuts to see people with no data background or idea of what they’re talking about to simply divide a couple of numbers and assume they’ve proven something. There is 0 value in that 75% stat. As for Alaska, much smaller route network with no overseas flights. You have an elderly dog or alligator you want to ship to China? It’s going on United, no one else will take it.

  24. It’s actually impossible to tell if that’s the case or not, sine we don’t have data on the types/ages/condition of animals flown by each airline, but from reading the incident reports and policies of each airline, that’s the best inference. Just saying that United has more incidents is meaningless without putting that into context. You might as well say that a top oncologist has more patient deaths than your local dermatologist, so that oncologist must be a horrible doctor

  25. So now dogs are more important than people? Stop in Akron and fly the dog on to STL. Never will fly united again. Will walk first.

  26. It just dawned on me.

    I appreciate United confirming the importance of passengers…that inconveniencing 33 passengers and diverting them is ok….and the importance of 1 dog is more important.

    And we already know how important dogs are for United.

    So what is my boarding priority?

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