Oy: United Just Sent A Dog To Japan By Accident

Filed Under: United

On Monday a dog died in the overhead bin of a United flight, after a flight attendant instructed the owner to place the dog there. On Tuesday a dog was flown to Japan instead of Kansas. And we wonder why United has three times as many incidents with animals as all other US airlines combined

In this latest incident, a family was moving from Oregon to Wichita, and they checked their 10 year old german shepherd, Irgo, in the cargo hold.

Irgo was supposed to fly in the cargo hold of a different United flight that was to arrive at 4:30PM. However, when they arrived at Kansas City Airport on a United flight on Tuesday, they were given a great dane that wasn’t their dog.

Due to a mix-up, United sent the great dane to Kansas, and the german shepherd to Japan. Officials in Japan were able to locate Irgo, and after seeing a veterinarian he will be flown back to the US, though we don’t yet know when. Because the dog was on an international flight, it may be quarantined in Japan for up to two weeks.

United told the passengers that they didn’t know how the mistake happened, because the kennels were apparently similar (which makes no sense, since hopefully they use a slightly higher tech method than just the visuals of a kennel when deciding where to send animals). Here’s what the passenger had to say, per KCTV5:

“I just want to know where my dog is,” Swindle said. “The fact that we don’t have any idea is the most frustrating part. He could be in Kansas City and we have no idea because the paperwork is all messed up. They have our paperwork here saying that this is the correct dog, but we know it’s not. It’s just horrible.”

“At this point, all I can do is be hopeful that my dog is going to be okay and return safely,” she said. “I don’t know what else to do at this point. I can’t cry anymore. I’ve cried too much.”

The airline has issued the following statement regarding the incident:

“An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations. 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.”

This is just so unacceptable. It’s bad enough when bags get sent to the wrong place, but the duty of care for a living creature is so much higher. It can’t be that this ever happens, let alone that this happens as often as it does on United.

As I explained earlier, this isn’t an isolated incident:

  • In 2017, United transported 138,178 animals and reported 18 deaths, 13 injuries, and 31 total incidents
  • All other airlines combined transported 368,816 animals, and reported six deaths, two injuries, and nine total incidents

It’s pretty telling when an airline that transports 27% of animals also has 75% of animal deaths, 87% of animal injuries, and 78% of animal incidents.

United: it’s time you suspend your animal transport program if you can’t transport animals safely. There’s zero excuse for the incompetence here.

  1. @Jon – its a new york thing, we usually say “on” in ways others wouldnt. Standing on line, on Long Island, on accident. Dont know if Lucky is a native New Yorker, but it definitely is a thing here.

    I haven’t flown United in years because they just are hands down the worst carrier out of the US majors. There is something systematically wrong in their work culture; the amount of times we are seeing them in the news for the wrong reasons isn’t a coincidence. When there is smoke, there is fire, and in United’s case its a major dumpster fire starting at the top. Good to see I havent missed out on much since I’ve last flown them.

  2. don’t you love the one who once got banned from airline for defrauding them now sits on top of a moral high horse and pretend to call out others ?

  3. this proves that no publicity is bad publicity, including death. united will likely settle with the family if they decide to sue, but people like you mooching on free upgrades and demanding status recognition will continue to throw money at united. that’s how they continue to operate. nothing’s going to stop unless people who pay for their seat with ACTAUL CASH say nope, united, I’m not giving you money anymore.

  4. Losing bags happens. Losing dogs should never happen. United is a lost cause. PR nightmare after PR nightmare for them.

  5. I traveled with my nine-year-old Labrador from Newark to Guatemala City and can attest to the disastrous service from United. Our pet was checked in as cargo which meant that when we landed in the evening, she was taken to a separate location at the Guatemala City airport. It took five hours and endless and very stressful procedures to have her taken out of the bonded warehouse. As far as United was concerned or their agents on the ground, the pet could have been a table or a chair for all they cared. The return trip would have required a similar procedure on the outbound leg (delivering the pet the day before travel as cargo into a bonded warehouse.) Obviously, we declined, changed to American and had a great experience on the return.

    I strongly urge pet owners to avoid flying United. In fact, I urge United to stop transporting pets altogether. They just don’t know how to do it as is becoming patently clear.

  6. United way of fixing a problem is lobbying and asking TSA to stop reporting of Animal “Mishandling”.

  7. the fact that they said “vendor” is even more aggregating. Just like when anything happens on a UAX plane its always the “partner” or “express carrier”. Monday and Tuesday of the same week??? FML UA

  8. I’m not going to defend them but let’s look at the facts .

    United has almost 90000 employees and carried 108 million passengers last year

    Social media is a nightmare now – she said this, he said that etc 99.9 % of people were not there and frankly have no idea what happened

    They almost call for the public flogging of the crew member

    If she made an error I’m sure she’s devastated, however it’s unlikey she would be dismissed

    You provide DOT statistics as to how many animals died whilst in the airline’s care and yet it could be a pre-existing condition or shock by being out in a dark hold without human contact and listening to strange noises

    Have you ever seen those documentaries when they place a camera in a house when the owner is out and see how the dog/ cat reacts? They are often frantic with worry and anxious until they hear the key in the door

    Imagine the same dog/cat being placed on a flight

    Please tell me how many deaths were directly attributed to mishandling by United or another carrier ? It’s impossible unless perhaps a crate or bag fell on top of it however it’s accidental. Not with malice aforethought

    Sadly every year dozens of humans die in aircraft through no fault of the airline

    Now there’s the mixup with a dog being sent to japan Recently there was a mixup with passengers on an ANA flight who should not have been

    These stories are always sensitive but errors happen on all airlines. It’s part of the business. How they resolve it is important

    And all these people saying they will boycott ABC. Go ahead. It’s your choice
    You’ll find the grass is not greener on the other side

  9. At least they didn’t send it to Korea or China… otherwise some ground ops guy’s family would be having a special dinner tonight.

  10. @Icarus

    Rational thinking is not allowed on the internet. Not in the posts nor in the comments…especially the comments.

    Outrage first…followed by more outrage. A reasoned analysis of the statistics? Maybe…if I have time before the next trip report.

  11. @Icarus – Your points would be valid if the conditions that you describe of pets with pre-existing conditions, being scared of being in the dark, shock, etc. didn’t also apply to animals being transported in other airlines. Fact is that United’s rate is 3x higher than all other airlines, and you can’t just ignore that. If pets are dying because of shock of being in the cargo, that same rule/logic would also apply to AA or Delta.

  12. @ Gurujanitor,

    The United Culture (they once had a good reputation and image) is DEAD and GONE.

    It’s the CONTINENTAL Culture. And that has always been abominable.

  13. The USDA has jurisdiction over the transportation of animals.

    They should ban UA from transporting animals either in the cabin or as cargo until they’ve done a safety standdown for retraining of all in-flight and ramp personnel.

  14. Oy indeed. Leaving aside the emotions, the issues most likely deal with years of underinvestment in the IT and operational processes to safely transport live animals.

    While hoping that the dog is ok and gets back to his owner safely, it’s kind of neat that he’s gone where no one in his family has (probably) gone before.

  15. The transportation of animals is a business area that United should clearly not be a part of. They simply can not facilitate it.

  16. Screwed up airline. United needs to be completely redone starting with C-Level management and then working its way down.

  17. Isn’t someone at United getting tired of writing endless platitudes of apology? Obviously get out of the animal transport business. Travellers with pets musn’t fly United. Besides, whatever happened to all the security matching people and luggage (and pets?) with destinations?

  18. Why so silent, Oscar Munoz?

    Hasn’t your assistant written your response yet?

    Dude…..you ain’t a leader.

  19. @Ea Posner

    With you 100%.

    If transporting a large animal within the US, plan a road trip for the animal’s well being.

    If flying abroad, avoid United. As I said in a previous post, Lufthansa and Air France have the edge here. This coming from a dog owner who moved with his dog across six countries & three continents over our loved ones 18 years. Yes, we’d go out of our way to pay the steep costs and our discomfort to route on Lufthansa or Air France for the comfort and safety for another member of our family who loved us unconditionally.

  20. United, if someone brings a Airline Approved PET or ANIMAL Carrier onto one of your planes and the pet was PAID for so it could be with the owner, Don’t you think you OWE it to any owner to have your crew listen with BOTH ears when they are told its A DOG?

  21. It is not uncommon of baggage being misloaded to other airport
    but this time there is a dog in the baggage

  22. Time to be pedantic. If Irgo was supposed to go to MCI, he was mistakenly sent to Japan instead of MISSOURI.

    Also, +1 to Lucky for use of Yiddish. I would have preferred an Oy Vey or Oy Gevalt, but you take what you can get.

  23. United should fly the owner of the dog, first class/business class, to Tokyo to pick up her dog and fly her back with the dog in a seat next to her. If the dog is quarantined by Japan, United should put her up in a hotel for whatever time it takes plus cover her missed wages if any.

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