Categories: Animal Cruelty

Crazy United Airlines’ flight attendant insists that dog is placed in overhead storage

This is about a dog but it could be about any pet being transported on a United Airlines aircraft. I have to say from the outset that what happened was against company policy. United Airlines’ flight attendants are trained to ensure that pets and carriers are placed under the seat.

However, in this instance United Airlines is facing animal cruelty charges following the death of a dog on one of their flights. The dog’s name was Kokito. He was a 10-month-old French bulldog. Sophia along with her mother Catalina Robledo, her two-month-old brother and the dog were flying home from Houston Texas.

Kokito

Crazy decision

The flight attendant (we don’t have his or her name) repeatedly insisted that Kokito must be stored in the overhead storage area rather than under the seat.

“She just closed it like it was a bag.”

The family told the attendant that the carrier contained a dog. They made this completely clear and the other passengers have provided eyewitness evidence. There’s no question about this. This attendant knew there was a dog inside that carrier. Despite that he/she persisted in demanding that the carrier be placed in the overhead locker where the dog died after about 30 minutes of flight.

He was heard barking for 30 minutes and then he fell silent. He remained in the locker for the entire three hour flight. I’m very surprised actually that the family did not open the locker during the flight. Why did they not do this? There may be an element of contributory negligence here.

When the plane landed and the family prepared to disembark they thought that the dog was asleep but then discovered he was dead. They were in tears and in shock. The attendant was also in shock. The attendant claimed that he/she was unaware that there was a dog in the carrier. This appears to be a lie.

United Airlines have offered to reimburse the ticket and provide compensation but clearly this will never be adequate. They say that it was a tragic accident which should never have occurred. They agree that pets should never be placed in the overhead bin and express their deepest condolences to the family.

French Bulldog health

There is another factor in the story which is not been stated in the newspapers. The French bulldog is an inherently unhealthy animal as far as I can tell. They have breathing difficulties and can suffer from heat stroke. There are many other, I regret to say, inherited health issues with this breed of dog. But poor breathing and a susceptibility to heatstroke placed this particular dog under a severe risk of death under the circumstances.

Negligence

It appears that the airline has been negligent and that the flight attendant failed to show a proper duty of care towards the family and their dog. The family had paid the required US$125 pet fee for each flight.

United’s poor record

A US senator, John Kennedy has written to the airline’s president demanding an immediate explanation for the number of animals who have died recently in United Airlines’ care. He states that according to the US Department of Transportation, 18 of the 24 animals who died in major US airlines’ care in 2017 were in the care of United Airlines.

United Airlines have instigated a new policy to prevent this sort of tragedy happening again. It’s a new method of pet categorisation. A brightly coloured tag will be placed on luggage carrying pets. The policy will be implemented in April.

The truth of the matter is that there is no need for a new policy or method. There is simply a need for common sense to be exercised by flight attendants working for United Airlines. We don’t know what happened to this attendant. There’s no question in my mind that he or she should be sacked summarily for gross misconduct. This is another PR disaster for this airline. There have been previous incidents regarding pets.

Comment

Having thought about this, if it was me with my cat, I would hope and I believe that if this sort of scenario befell me I would have resisted and not complied with the flight attendant’s demands. I would created a scene and there would have been a certain amount of mayhem in the aircraft until the matter was resolved. As a last resort, I would have probably left the aircraft and insisted that I be free to leave the aircraft. To place your cat or dog in an overhead locker is almost like a death sentence and is unthinkable.

The source of the story is the Independent online newspaper.

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • The flight attendant and United Airlines are 100 percent to blame. The flight attendant must be charged with felony animal cruelty as well as additional civil charges including but not limited to deliberate infliction of emotional distress. Kokito died a slow,painful and horrific death. He was the little girl's birthday present and was stolen from her to die alone in a dark airless box.

    • Yes, agreed. I remember this story clearly because it is so shocking and clearly an example of animal cruelty. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Bev.

  • We all know how much it sucks to fly now and how you better be prepared for anything. The airlines put their employees in a pressure cooker environment with that on time, on time, we gotta be out of here on time, let's go, etc., then the FAs pressure and bully all the passengers when boarding with get out of the aisle, sit down, move out of the way, we gotta go, etc. The airlines seem to pressure and enable someone who already has mental issues to believe that this bullying is part of their job until it explodes in their face like it did. I believe that this is why this already crazy FA was so adamant with this woman. Not saying the airline condones murdering dogs to get some where fast but they are still responsible. Also all the passengers are definitely at fault but passengers are so freaked out that these flight attendants can have them arrested and/or thrown off the plane, and they do at the slightest situation now under the guise of security. Of course it is outrageous that none of them would help this family. I am just commenting on the environment created by the airlines led to this perfect storm.

  • Boycott UA. They have killed or shipped to the wrong place 3x as many animals as all the other airlines in the same time period. In fact they had 3 incidences in the same week. I got this info from 3 different published reports in legitimate news sources.

  • According to eye witness accounts of passengers posting on their FB page and sitting behind and near the family the mom kept pleading with the flight attendant in English that her dog was in the legal pet carrier she used and she paid the pet fee. One of the passengers posted a pic of the deceased dog in a pet carrier. The Flight Attendant kept insisting in English she put it in the overhead according to the eye witness. If the Flight Attendant did not understand what the passenger was saying, perhaps she had an accent or was speaking what we call in CA Spanglish, she could have asked the daughter or gotten another Flight Attendant to assist. Language is no excuse for a Flight Attendant. It was also stated that UA policy explicitly states that animals do not go in the overhead. A FA gets trained by the airline and is responsible for knowing policy. Both the out of control power mad FA and the airline should face criminal charges for what happened. The family has hired an attorney. He wants to know what the airline is doing with this employee and wants criminal charges brought. A NY State Senator has gotten involved to demand justice also and bring criminal charges.

  • https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Dog-Overhead-Compartment-United-Airlines-Statement-Attendant-Didnt-Hear-Understand-Kokito-476859113.html

    So I'm going to put my personal knowledge out here. I live in the southwest and there are a large number of illegal people who don't speak English as well as citizens or legal residents that don't speak English well or at all. Their children are often their spokespersons. This is common knowledge especially in a state like Texas.
    Also consider the complicity of every passenger who knew the dog was stuffed up there.
    My experience in flying is passengers unless the seat belt sign is on run around the plane like hamsters. Did no one open that bin at all during the fight? Wouldn't you check on your pet?
    One video says they were asked to put the dog in the overhead because it was blocking the aisle. This means that either they had other bags stuffed under their seats or that the carrier was not approved.
    I will try and keep up on this one as actual facts emerge. To me this rests on the flight attendant and I don't care if she's devastated or not and the pets guardians who simply went along with the demand.
    I don't have much respect for the other passengers who watched this unfold while on the ground I'm guessing and did nothing.

  • Questions
    Was the puppy put in the overhead prior to take off ? If yes why didn't the family demand to be let off the plane. This in no way excuses the fight attendant and BTW there is usually more than one so what was the rest of the staff doing while this was going on ? Almost without fail you may keep any luggage that fits under your seat there and not in the overhead. https://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/Pages/BaggageCarry-On.aspx

    Was this flight attendant fluent in English.

    But I go back to my first question. If someone told me to suffocate my pet I would refuse no matter what the consequences. End of story. There is great to do when flying with pets that the carrier be airline approved so it fits UNDER you seat. I've flown with one of my cats and know this is so. All dimensions related to the pet carrier are for under seat fitting not the overhead.

    • Absolutely agree with your second sentence and with your other comments. I'd refuse. There would be an almighty row, chaos etc and I talk to the supervisor or captain. That would solve the problem. Or I'd leave the aircraft.

      • Yes. No animal of mine will die like this on my watch. And yeah I would have checked the animal every 10 minutes of that flight. I think just opening the the overhead door many times would have helped if not prevented suffocation. Contributory neg.

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