Dog’s death prompts United Airlines to impose new rules

World’s safest airlines for 2019
Aaron Cooper/CNN

United Airlines has rolled out new restrictions on pet air travel after the recent deaths of several dogs while flying have been in the spotlight.

“Effective June 18, 2018, United will implement several new policies and customer requirements for pet air transportation to improve the safety of the travel experience,” United said in a statement, adding that further changes to “improve the safety” of animals will be implemented throughout the year.

The new rules allow only dogs and cats to be transported in planes’ cargo holds, and will not allow snubbed-nose and strong-jawed breeds to fly – including popular breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, boxers and Pekingese.

United Airlines previously only restricted six breeds, United spokesman Charles Hobart told People magazine, but they will now prohibit 44 breeds of dogs and four breeds of cats.

“We are doing this to further minimize risk and ensure the comfort of pets we fly,” Hobart told People. “Prior to today, we flew all sorts of animals. Geese, foxes, leopards, you name it, we pretty much flew it. That will change moving forward. We’ll only fly dogs and cats as pets that belong to our customers.”

The new rules also disallow pets from flying from four warm-weather locations during the summer months: Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson and Palm Springs.

It has not been decided if restriction will be made for pets flying in the cabin. According to current rules, cats, dogs, rabbits and household birds may fly in-cabin with their owner as long as they can fit into a kennel under a seat.

In March, a passenger’s French bulldog died on a United flight after a flight attendant made the owner stow her dog in an overhead bin.

“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again,” airline spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin told People at the time.

The dog’s death prompted a pair of bipartisan senators, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy and Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, to propose a bill directing the Federal Aviation Administration to establish fines for putting animals in overhead bins.