United Is Going to the Dogs

United Airlines is not doing well of late.

No longer content with only “re-accommodating” human passengers, United has recently taken to mistreating their canine passengers as well. It began last Monday, when they accidentally killed a puppy named Kokito. Against the airline’s own policy, a flight attendant forced his owner to store him in the overhead compartment, and he did not survive the flight.

Next, the airline shipped the wrong dog to Japan. That doesn’t seem like something which should even be possible, and yet, here we are. When the Swindle family went to pick up their German Shepard Irgo, they were instead presented with a strange Great Dane. That’s a hell of a thing.

The Swindles were in the midst of moving from Oregon to Kansas this week. They had sent Irgo on a cargo flight to Kansas City, but when they went to retrieve him, he was nowhere to be found. In his place, they discovered a Great Dane that was supposed to be en route to Japan.

While the Swindles had reason to be concerned, this picture indicates things were not too dire:

What a good boy! [Photo credit: Kara Swindle]

Irgo flew back from Japan on a private jet, and he looks like he had a great time. I hope he picked up some nice souvenirs for the family. Perhaps some of the many unique flavors of Kit-Kats available in Japan. He can’t eat them himself, of course, but they’d make a lovely gift. Still, exclusive chocolates or no, I’d certainly rather avoid flying 11,000 miles over two days just to get from Denver to Kansas.

On Thursday, United discovered they were risking further ire from the dog-loving public, after they again loaded a dog onto the wrong flight. To avoid further bad publicity, the airline opted to fall back on their old habit of pissing off their human passengers.

The flight, originally set to go from Newark, N.J., to St. Louis, was diverted to Ohio to reunite the dog with his family, the Washington Post reported.

Yes, 33 passengers en route to St. Louis, were instead diverted to Akron so a dog could be delivered where he belonged. And lest you think this was a quick detour, apparently the flight spent an hour and a half on the ground in Ohio. Passengers eventually arrived in St. Louis approximately two hours late. I love dogs, but I’d have been more than a little displeased.

It really seems like it should be possible to run an airline without killing dogs or mistreating passengers, but United’s example tells a different story. Only time will tell just what their next foul-up will be.