Yesterday we learned that 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 immediately “assume[d] full responsibility for this tragedy.”
Now however, and although a flight attendant did insist the woman put her dog in the overhead bin for the flight, United wants us to know that it’s not really the flight attendant’s fault. Here’s the airline’s new statement.
We have spoken to the family, our crew and a number of passengers who were seated nearby. We have learned that the customer did tell the flight attendant that there was a dog in the carrier. However, our flight attendant did not hear or understand her, and did not knowingly place the dog in the overhead bin. As we stated, we take full responsibility and are deeply sorry for this tragic accident. We remain in contact with the family to express our condolences and offer support.
To prevent this from happening again, by April we will issue bright colored bag tags to customers traveling with in-cabin pets. This visual tag will further help our flight attendants identify pets in-cabin.
United takes full responsibility, but the crew member who created the situation shouldn’t be blamed. And it will never happen again because of bright colored bag tags. Which is sort of like the beginning to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where Douglas Adams explains that most solutions to unhappiness involve moving around small green pieces of paper.
This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
At least focusing on the lack of bright bag tags rather than a flight attendant’s instructions gone wrong will help avoid union problems.