By Aric Jenkins
March 20, 2018

A week after a dog died in an overhead bin and another was shipped to Japan instead of Kansas, United Airlines is reevaluating its handling of pets. On Tuesday, the carrier announced it was suspending its animal-shipping cargo program as the company conducts a review.

The suspension is effective immediately and will run until May 1, 2018, the company said. Customers who already made reservations by March 20 will still be able to transport their animals. The “PetSafe” program only applies to cargo travel, meaning passengers can still bring domesticated pets in aircraft cabins. That service was already under review following last week’s incident.

“We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care,” United wrote in a blog post, adding that the review will “make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets.”

In 2017, United Airlines had 18 pets die aboard its planes, while Alaska Airlines — closest to United in terms of total animals transported — had just two, according to Transportation Department statistics. Delta and American Airlines had just four combined.

While United recently came under scrutiny for its handling of an in-cabin pet, it had an incident with its PetSafe cargo program during the same week. The day after the reported dog death, the airline accidentally shipped another canine to Japan rather than its correct destination of Kansas. United apologized for the incident and said it was working to understand what happened.

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