OMG: United Charters Private Jet For A Dog

Filed Under: United

United had a doggone bad week when it comes to dogs. On Monday a dog died in the overhead bin of a United flight, after a flight attendant instructed a passenger to put it there. United claims they took responsibility for the incident, though they are backing the flight attendant.

That’s not all, though. On Tuesday, United sent a dog to Japan instead of Kansas. Yes, seriously. When the owners went to pick up their dog they were given a different dog, at which point it became clear that the dogs had swapped places.

It looks like United’s communication there was initially bad, though over time it got better. There was a risk of the dog having to be quarantined in Japan for a couple of weeks, though fortunately it looks like United got the dog out of there… on a private jet! This is pretty amazing.

Per the dog’s owner on Facebook:

UPDATE: Irgo should be arriving about 7:30pm CT at the Wichita airport. He is being flown by private charter, and being treated like the king he is!!! I will update you all when I get my baby back!!

I’ve gotta give it to United, this is brilliantly done. If only they always handled PR situations like this, rather than digging themselves deeper holes. Of course this is totally over the top and quite expensive, but it’s a small price to pay compared to the horrible PR they’ve been getting. Now they can even get a bit of good PR out of this situation.

This doesn’t minimize their incompetence, or that they still need to look at their animal transport program, as three times as many animals die on United as all other airlines combined. However, this is a small gesture that should go a long way.

  1. Time for Oscar Munoz to be fired. United just simply can not keep themselves out of the news in a bad way. A private jet doesn’t excuse sending a dog across the Pacific accidentally.

  2. @ Garrett – yep! And what happened to the dog that was supposed to go to Japan in place of Irgo? I’m assuming there was a switch or did they just place him in the wrong plane? Imagine his suffering of 20+ hours in the air.

    If it was brilliant PR maybe they could have thought larger and tied something else in with the private jet – maybe reunited a family, something. I would tell United to think bigger, but they have to focus on getting their employees and crew in line first so this horrendous stuff doesn’t happen

  3. Haha! I love it! I’ve actually transported my dog on UA from Japan to the US before. A first officer personally came out to tell me that my dog had been loaded onto the plane. I was shocked and overall, it was a painless and very pleasant experience. These happen – apparently too much with UA though.

  4. A private jet might seem over the top but I believe this dog is over 10 years old. At his age flying in the hold from Asia to the US would be too stressful, especially after having already been stressed having to fly over in the first place because of United’s screw up. It was either fly the dog in first class or private in order to make sure he was okay the whole time.

  5. This is emblematic of the idiocy of United and Munoz.

    They try and buy their way out of their mistakes, spending at least $250,000 on this flight a rumored 9 figure settlement to Dao, instead of running a decent operation in the first place.

    They really should simply suspend their pet transport program for the moment with its horrifying stats.

  6. so some people are going to remember in early 2018 United chartered a dog from Japan out of courtesy instead of United mishandling two dogs and one of them died in a overhead bin.

    this is f**king brilliant. a publicity stunt and perfect coverup for the latest animal death.

  7. I think this demonstrates the level of insanity of the UA management. As Lucky points out, they deerly need an animal travel policy.

    Obviously it’s an absolute no go to put a dog into the overhead bin. As I pointed out earlier on, this deserves criminal prosecution for animal cruelty, as it would in most places on the planet. Yes in other places both the flight attendant and the management would possibly face a jail terms, if the occurence happened as discussed.

    Secondly, the dog sent to Tokyo instead if Wichita fortunately seems to be ok, i.e. his health is fine. Obviously it’s grave breach of contract by United. Yes, I think this should result in a significant compensation of the owners and the pet being sent to Wichita with utmost levels of diligence – but not with a private jet. After all, it’s still a pet.

    Finally, United needs a quick and very significant cultural change – also on behalf of their human passengers.

  8. Another example of the upside down world we live in. If they had lost a child I can guarantee you they would not charter a plane but for a dog they do this to please a portion of our population that values animal life as much as human life.

  9. Dear Lucky, I have been an avid reader of your blog since 2008 and have always loved reading about your reviews on airlines and hotels and your travel experiences. But lately the trip reports have been few and far between (we’ve been waiting for that review of Singapore’s new A380 Business Class for almost a week now) and have been seemingly replaced by clickbaity articles such as this one, which I find little value in. Don’t get me wrong, I still love you (and Tiffany) but please please could you go back to what you do best and what makes me love this site in the first place? Thanks!

  10. @Q A 9 figure settlement for Dr. Dao???? Does that include the cents? 1,000,000.00? There is no way they gave him $100,000,000

  11. @Q

    9 figures? Sorry, there is no possible way the settlement with Dao was 9 figures. No flipping way.

    Certainly 6 figures, maybe 7. Almost certainly not 8 figures, at least not more than low 8 figures. Zero chance of 9 figures.

  12. @katyalw this tells you that you’re NOT clicking affiliated links and applying for credit cards often enough and therefore lucky has to resort to clickbait content. it’s readers’ fault that we don’t make lucky enough money or credit card points. we’re so sorry, ben! :'(

  13. Some may say this was a waste of money but from a marketing standpoint this was a smart move.

  14. Using private jets just further proves that United is indeed incompetent in handling animals on their own equipment!

  15. @Evan the American media doesn’t cover Japanese pets this shouldn’t be surprising. The media has a vague notion of a world outside our borders at best.

  16. You know they put this dog on a corporate jet because even they don’t trust their cargo people to not F this up. Showing the dog happy on a private jet makes a lot of sense from a PR perspective although I can’t imagine why anyone would fly united with a pet at this point.

  17. @katyawl
    Agreed. I love the blog too, and read it daily, but it’s been a bit too much of an “OMG!” blog this week; not enough of the intelligent stuff that makes this blog special.

  18. Andy – name one of these mythical places that would jail management because a staff member accidentally killed a dog. I refuse to believe a single place like that exists, and struggle to believe the actual flight attendant that did it would be jailed anywhere in the world for that.

    It would be beyond absurd to sanction mass animal-farming whilst severely prosecuting things like that.

  19. @MarkM, that’s what I want to know!

    @Lucky, is there any info on the dog that was sent to Kansas by mistake? In some ways, it’s worse for that family, because they won’t get to see their dog for even longer due to the quarantine requirements… :-\

  20. If the dog got a private jet, they should at least give me 100% miles on a domestic economy class ticket, not some stinking 700-800 miles for flying 2000 miles.

  21. If only united had chauffeured dr dao in a rolls Royce phantom from Memphis to Louisville or wherever he was flying to.

  22. These comments are ridiculous, no matter what they did you guys would be complaining.

    Return in cargo: “so cheap, fire munoz, they have no idea how to fix a mistake”

    Return in coach: “great so now they put a big dog in coach and put him through connections, how is this fair to other pax? Fire munoz”

    Return dog in J/Y: “those people paid thousands of dollars and they have to sit with a dog? Are you serious munoz? I wonder if they bumped someone lolhaha”

    And so on. United did something nice to fix their mistake. Who really cares if it cost a lot. The dog is happy, life goes on. Kudos to United for making the right call here. But still, fire Munoz.

  23. Does Lucky have a dog? He was talking about golden showers before.

    Rename this blog to ‘Daily Dog Digest’.

    Next we will have tips on how to make your hair glossy and the top ten dogs to take into the cabin.

  24. What @Katyalw says. We knows it’s Luckys blog and he’s free to write what he wants but 7 days between TR episodes (is that the right word) is pushing it.

  25. Instead of getting a private charter back, the Japanese dog got beat up and dragged off its return flight by animal control for refusing to give up his seat.

  26. So if UA sent/divert me to the wrong place will UA put me on these jets.

    UA treat dogs better than human.
    Go figure.

  27. @Desi has it spot on. The poor dog had never been on a flight period, let alone transpacific. Now twice in one week. Not to mention the intended original flight was a relatively short hop, and he ended up 16 hours without water or food. Had to be stressful.

    This was not only good PR, but the right thing to do, to make sure Irgo’s health was not further compromised.

  28. What a waste, the dog isn’t even capable of appreciating the experience lol. Reminds me of reading about the Zond 5 mission, which had two turtles, like wtf, the turtles had no clue they went to the moon let alone the ability to appreciate the experience.

  29. Enough of the dog stories. Stuff happens. Get over it. This kind of incident happens to one in ten million. So move on information we all can use.

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