Though the overhead locker is not air-tight, lack of oxygen may have caused the dog's death, U.S. media reports said. The airline said it had seen an 84% increase since 2016 in incidents involving improperly trained animals, including urination, defecation, and attacks on passengers and crew members. Lara said he was seated next to a family who had their ten-month-old French Bulldog on the flight.
Witnesses said the flight attendant had asked one of the passengers to put her airline-approved pet carrier in the locker.
United Airlines apologised Tuesday (March 13) after a dog died on a flight during which it was stored in a passenger's overhead compartment.
Gremminer later told PEOPLE the hostess who allegedly insisted on moving the dog appeared "frazzled" and claimed she was unaware the animal was in the carrier.
Gremminger said on Twitter she wants to find out the name of the dog's owners so she can help them. I am heart broken right now. Gremminger said the owner was preoccupied by her infant during the flight and did not check on the pet, which fell eerily silent after barking during takeoff and as the plane ascended to its cruising altitude.
Gremminger told the travel blog One Mile at a Time: "By the end of the flight, the dog was dead". Though overhead storage bins are not completely sealed, air may not flow as freely there.
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The dog's owner, a mother traveling with two children, was not identified.
United transported 138,178 animals past year, more than any other American airline according to the US Department of Transportation.
This is just the latest in a string of troubling episodes for United when it comes to transporting pets.
In response, United released a statement apologizing for the dog's death and promising an investigation.
Six animal deaths in total were reported from the other 16 carriers included in the DOT report. United Airlines had the highest record for pet deaths among US airlines in 2017 and 2016. And in May, a 3-foot-long rabbit named Simon was found dead after a United flight.