2017 has not been a good year for animals traveling on United Airlines.
United Airlines Apologizes After Family’s Dog Dies During Flight
In April, a rabbit named Simon died in the cargo hold during a transcontinental flight from London to Chicago. Two months later, the airline confused a pair of dogs during a layover in Denver, mistakenly sending one to Burbank and the other to Chicago.
And now, in what might be the most egregious incident yet, a Texas family is mourning the death of their beloved dog, a 5-year-old King Charles Spaniel, after their plane sat on the tarmac at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) for two hours before departing for San Francisco.
According to the Rasmussen family, the pup was sequestered in the plane's cargo hold during the entirety of the flight.
A number of questions surrounding the episode remain unanswered, but experts say it's possible that conditions in the hold played a role in the now deceased dog's passing.
"We are so sorry to learn of Lulu's passing and have reached out to our customer to offer our condolences and assistance. We are deeply upset any time an animal suffers an injury while traveling with us and especially grieved in the rare instance that one passes away. We are conducting a thorough review of this incident."
Indeed, ravelers flying the friendly skies with their pets might want to consider an alternative to United.
According to a 2017 report issued by the U.S. Transportation Department, the carrier has outpaced behind its peers and competitors for a dubious distinction: Onboard pet fatalities. Between January 2012 through February 2017, the same report revealed, a total of 53 animals died, far and away the most of any U.S.-based airline.