Holy Crud, United Just Sent a Kansas Family’s Dog to Japan by Mistake

It was only yesterday that news came out United required a passenger to put her dog in the overhead bin on a flight from Houston to New York LaGuardia, and the dog died.

United took “full responsibility for this tragedy” and committed “to prevent this from ever happening again.” Yesterday.

Now it turns out United accidentally sent a Kansas family’s dog to Japan. The family was traveling on the same flight, with the dog checked in as cargo.

Kara Swindle and her two children flew from Oregon to Kansas City, Missouri, Tuesday on a United flight.

They went to a cargo facility to pick up 10-year-old Irgo, a German shepherd, but were instead given a Great Dane. Swindle, of Wichita, Kansas, learned Irgo had been put on a flight to Japan, where the Great Dane was supposed to go.

United mixed up the two dogs, and sent each to the wrong country.

Last year United mixed up two dogs and sent each one to the wrong city. One of the dogs was forced to overnight in Houston after taking this routing:

That wasn’t the only time United made news switching and mis-routing dogs last year. Fortunately those dogs survived. Another one in United’s care last year wasn’t so lucky when an agent’s mistake meant that the dog traveled 20 hours longer than expected.

United’s PetSafe program appears to have a problem.

One Mile at a Time pointed out that United Airlines accounts for “75% of animal deaths, 87% of animal injuries, and 78% of animal incidents” among U.S. airlines.

At least Irgo the German shepherd as of this moment is still believed to be alive. In a statement, United says

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.

I’d be a little more proactive than just that.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Now the abuse of the “emotional support animal” designation is starting to make more sense. When you follow the rules and pay the extra fees, you’re potentially increasing the risk of harm or death to your pet. These dogs and the incident of the dog in the overhead bin would likely not be an issue if they dogs had been emotional support animals.

  2. United seems to have a Multitude of Operational Problems where it comes to Using Common Sense. There needs to be a THOROUGH House Cleaning of various Layers of Management and retraining of Employees or the Feds may need to Step In and levy some pretty hefty Penalties. United is an Embarassment. Fortunate I rarely need to subject Myself to their UNFRIENDLY Cluster*

  3. Unfortunately, United is so large and it and its employees have been around for so long that they are acting like “the government.” That is, a large, inefficient, unaccountable bureaucracy with employees more concerned about their perks, status and benefits than service to the “taxpayers” (customers).

  4. @JetAway actually, it’s the other way around. United is acting EXACTLY as capitalism allows them to. Having pets die in their care doesn’t affect their bottom line, so why would they care? United’s interest is not the same as their customers’ interests and the only way to stop this is for the so-called “big” government to grow a pair and slap United with a big, hefty fine every time one of these incidents happen. United is unaccountable because Wall Street and Kirby have decided that being more careful doesn’t help their bottom line, just like how “efficient” capitalism is supposed to work. United gets away with this because idiots like you dismantle the powers of government instead of strengthening it because big moneyed interests (re: CORPORATIONS) are good at brainwashing uneducated fools into believing that a strong government is bad for the people. Your anti-government idiocy just proves that you have no idea how a government is supposed to work and what it’s supposed to do.

  5. No Ray … the way to resolve this is to allow customers to sue airlines in the same way they can sue other businesses who wrong them. “Big government” protects airlines by funneling all passenger issues through the DOT bureaucracy where nothing ever gets done (except for massive safety violations, thankfully) which allows airlines to continue to operate as abusively toward passengers as they want.

    Go try and sue United … see what happens.

  6. There is probably no better place than Japan for the GS to have been misrouted. Nowhere else have I seen a special cargo belt just for pets that is staffed by multiple personnel even when only one dog carrier is arriving. If that’s how diligent the Japanese are about traveling pets, then Fido should be well cared for, at least until he’s handed back to United.

  7. Now wait a minute guys. @Ray is right on as to why the current government of this country and its big corporations greed are taking all of us down the s—-hole. They have been bound together for a long time now and will continue to be bound together as long as capitalism is allowed to erode every decent value this country was founded on.
    And would like to add one more thing about tossing the United name around. Granted its past (pre 2010) was not the perfect one. But ever since Continental and their management took over, we now clearly see the results of their labors. United management was thrown out, inferior Continental IT programs and processes took over day to day operations, corrupt upper management (Jeff Smisek) was put in charge to head the new “United” along with other non experienced airline management personnel that are in charge today. And a real brigade of front line personnel that feel they are entitled to everything while contributing nothing to the success of the airline. The Continental flight attendants are a big source of why this airline still operates as two companies. After 8 years there still is no progress in getting the two flight attendant groups to come together. For the first three years after the acquisition, most Continental flight attendants did not wear the United uniforms and were allowed to do so by management. So when you look at a United aircraft, just look at the tail, Continental’s logo and realize the name on the side of the airplane really says Continental. And now we all know and understand more and more everyday why the name United is used instead.

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