Travel Nightmares

United Airlines is, once again, drowning in terrible publicity. This time, it’s about major screw-ups with canine passengers. I’ll put the news-averse among you out of your misery: In two of the three incidents, the dogs survived.

I’ll start with those. One dog, who was supposed to go to Akron, wound up on a flight to St. Louis; earlier in the week, a German en route to Kansas traded places with a Great Dane bound for Japan. Traveling with a dog checked in as cargo is nerve-racking enough without having to worry about whether the dog is headed to the same destination you are. But there really has to be a better way to arrange pet travel.

Which forces the conversation to the third incident on United: The puppy who suffocated. I don’t know who to be more angry with: The flight attendant who ordered a frazzled mom to put her puppy into the overhead bin — which is against policy, not to mention common sense; the mom who did it; or the other passengers who watched, heard the puppy crying … and did nothing.

Here’s my rant: You are your dog’s only advocate and voice. If someone tells you to do something that would harm your dog, there’s a simple response: Refuse. Don’t do it. I wasn’t there, and it sounds like the mom had more than she could handle. But that doesn’t let her off the hook. I’m sure that being a flight attendant is extremely stressful. That doesn’t let the flight attendant off the hook. And the other passengers? I don’t even know what to say.

Everyone let that puppy down, but the primary responsibility is with the owner. If you have a dog, you have accepted the enormous responsibility of being that dog’s advocate and protector.

United has the most incidents resulting in pet loss, injury, and, especially death. The airline has a terrible record. But the numbers (which anyone can look up here, on the FAA’s consumer complaints site) don’t tell the whole story. Why not? Because some airlines won’t accept pets as cargo. Others won’t accept pets on board. Some won’t accept pets at all. Many pet-owners have bypassed the system by pretending that their pets are emotional support animals, though airlines are beginning to close that loophole.

People who need to get pets from one place to another have few options. No trains or buses. Driving isn’t always feasible. I heard recently that Pet Airways, which closed down a few years ago, is coming back to life. I don’t know what their plan is or whether that will become a solution, but … Maybe we should all just stay home!


4 thoughts on “Travel Nightmares

  1. Oh my Pam….don’t even get me started. I was fortunate with Carmen as she was a service dog in training, so she got to,ride with me in the cabin until I got to Japan. My first dog came with me to Japan. Imdidn’t trust any American airline to fly her over with me or alone, so I can be back to the US, then goes her an official crate, drove with her to Washington DC and took an ALL NIPPON flight to Tokyo. I fretted about her before, during and after, but the airline promised she would be last on board, that she would be in a temperature called environment and she would be first off the plane. She did very well. Then a friend had to pick us up in a Tokyo and drive us to Yokohama. Expensive, but worth it. After we got moved to Sasebo on Kyushuu Island, Sachiko spent the rest of her days there with more flights. Carmen as well. Then I got Piper, the dog with severe separation anxiety. Together with Carmen, I was basically home bound…fine with me as my dogs came first ALWAYS. Not only did I not want to fly them anywhere, but I could not trust anyone with them at a kennel or even at my home. I worried too much. The only people,I did trust to take care of them properly was my husband, my neighbor (but that is a lot to ask…two,weeks if visiting the states) or the veterinary office that they loved going to and the doctor/nurses loved as well. Cost and worry kept me home but for one trip, so it was a stint of almost 10 years that I took any trip. I don’t regret it one moment, because as you said….having a dog or two,or more, is an awesome responsibility. Oh! Didn’t know the Pet Airways closed down. I thought that was a great thing and I would have used it for domestic transport if I couldn’t drive. (Sorry for this long post, but I know YOU would understand my mind.). Those stories sickened me…….😞


  2. I simply wouldn’t fly my dog anywhere, for any reason, ever. It’s just not safe. If I had to drive, go by boat, or a combination of the two, I would, however long it took. I realize that some see the way I prioritize my dog as skewed, (tbh I place her needs before my own,) but what can I say?


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