United Airlines is in need of some serious damage control after a string of controversial incidents over the past year.
In March 2017, the company had the attention of people worldwide after an agent refused to let a pair of girls board their flight because they weren't appropriately dressed.
What were they wearing, you ask? Leggings.
Shannon Watts, a mother and founder of Moms Demand Action, shared the experience on Twitter and it resulted in the airline getting a lot of flak.
Still, this wasn't nearly as serious as the incident that took place just a few weeks later.
In April 2017, a video was posted to social showing a man being forcibly removed by police from an overbooked United flight.
According to witnesses, the flight attendants were asking travelers to voluntarily leave the plane, but the man, who is a doctor, refused.
He told the employees that he needed to be on the flight because he had patients to see in the morning.
The airline apologized, reached a settlement with the man, who sustained some injuries, and changed some of their policies.
Then, just when United's PR department thought they were about to get a break from all the negative publicity, the airline was once again back in the news.
Multiple animal deaths
This time, they were responsible for the mysterious death of a rare giant rabbit.
Simon, a 10-month-old giant rabbit reportedly died during a trans-Atlantic flight between London's Heathrow Airport and Chicago's O'Hare airport.
The bunny, who was the son of the world's biggest rabbit, was "fit as a fiddle" before he flew, according to the breeder Annette Edwards.
"Something very strange has happened and I want to know what. I've sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before," she added.
United released a statement reassuring the public that "the safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team."
They also confirmed that an investigation was underway to find out what happened, and prevent future animal deaths.
Unfortunately, they weren't successful in keeping all pets safe. In the last year alone, United has had 18 animal deaths and 13 injuries.
In March 2018, a family lost their 10-month-old french bulldog while flying from Houston to New York City with United.
Kokito was initially placed in a TSA-compliant pet carrier that could fit under the seats, but when the family boarded the plane, a flight attendant forced them to place the carrier in the overhead bin.
The pup was reportedly barking for a while during the four-hour flight, but by the time they landed at LaGuardia, he had died.
"Many other crew members were contacting additional help and offering a blanket to the young girl who seemed cold. They were confused at how that individual flight attendant could have done this, but did not seem to take any sides or blindly defend," said passenger Maggie Gremminger.
"They were professional and did a wonderful job gathering information and being as supportive to the mourning family as possible."
United took "full responsibility of the tragedy" and revealed that they were "thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again."
Shortly after Kokito's death, a family was flying with their German Shepherd from Oregon to Kansas, but when they landed, they discovered that he was missing and a Great Dane was in his place.
Turns out, Irgo, who was placed in a cargo hold of a different flight, was accidentally flown to Japan instead.
“An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations,"read the statement. "We have notified our customers that their pets have arrived safely and will arrange to return the pets to them as soon as possible. We apologize for this mistake and are following up with the vendor kennel where they were kept overnight to understand what happened.”
Thankfully, Irgo was found and flown to Kansas in a private jet supplied by United Airlines.
Now, after more than a month of silence, the airline announced that they partnered up with the Humane Society, and have updated their PetSafe program policy.
United's new rules stipulate that only cats and dogs will be transported, but not all breeds are eligible.
Their new no-fly list grew from six to 21 breeds. Short or snub-nosed dogs like pugs and French bulldogs as well as "strong-jawed" breeds such as Pit bulls and mastiffs are no longer allowed.
As for cats, Burmese, Himalayan, Persian, and exotic shorthair cats are banned from flying.
“We are doing this to further minimize risk and ensure the comfort of pets we fly,” sais United Airlines spokesperson Charles Hobart. “Prior to today, we flew all sorts of animals. Geese, foxes, leopards, you name it, we pretty much flew it. That will change moving forward. We’ll only fly dogs and cats as pets that belong to our customers.”
Dogs and cats will be accepted as early as July 9, but the owner must also be booked on the same flight.
If you're travelling with your pet make sure you don't book flights between May 1 and September 30 if you are departing from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, McCarran International Airport, Palm Springs International Airport or Tucson International Airport.
United won't fly your pet during that period due to high temperatures.
“We understand that [the new policies] can present challenges to folks who have traditionally flown their pets where they need to be, but our overwhelming concern is ensuring the comfort of those animals and this is how we have to do it,” Hobart added.
As for animals travelling in the cabin, the airline hasn't issued any restrictions as they're still investigating.
The complete list of banned breed can be found here.
Will this stop you from flying with United? Let us know!
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