United Airlines have, once again, evoked strong negative emotions in their passengers. Just last year, there was news of a passenger, coerced into leaving a plane because they made a mistake and overbooked the flight. As of Monday night, they are now responsible for the death of somebody’s beloved pet. On Flight 1284 from Houston to LaGuardia airport in New York – a three and a half hour long flight – one of the cabin crews had requested for a passenger to stow their bag in the overhead compartment.
Little did she know that it was not just a bag, instead it was a pet carrier with a dog inside of it, or so they claim. In spite of the claims made by a representative of the airline denying the prior knowledge of the puppy in the bag, there is little to no supporting evidence. Every passenger on board including the family in question asserted the fact that the sound of the dog barking should have been enough to tip them off.
Needless to say, this resulted in the suffocation of the poor pup. People all over the world especially animal rights activists are deeply infuriated by this incident because it involves the life of a truly precious being.
United Continental Holdings Inc., the Chicago-based airline have recently announced the implementation of their new plan in response to the incident. Bright colored tags will be issued starting next month, to passengers who are traveling with a pet in order to avoid the recurrence of such “tragic accident”, as phrased by the airline company. In conjunction with this matter, United Airlines have issued an official statement of apology as follows:
“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Clearly, no justification or follow-up actions will be adequate to make up for this loss, particularly towards the affected individuals. The cabin crew in the discussion has insisted on the fact that she was not aware of the presence of Kokito, the pup. This strongly contradicts the claims made by the other passengers on board. Maggie Gremminger, one of the passengers who was seated near the pet owner, has vocally criticized the airlines on Twitter. She persistently asserted the fact that there was obviously a dog in the bag, but the United flight attendant was adamant about placing it in the overhead compartment. The passengers were not aware of the rules and regulations regarding pets on board, for that reason they did not take actions. Despite of the odd instruction, some presumed that the planes had air ventilation in the compartments.
This incident has subsequently sparked controversy towards United Airlines such that Senator John Kennedy has acknowledged this issue on Twitter.
I will be filing a bill tomorrow that will prohibit airlines from putting animals in overhead bins. Violators will face significant fines. Pets are family.
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) March 14, 2018
The public has expressed concerns towards matter regarding animals on board. The district attorney’s office of the Harris County in Texas is now joining forces with the animal cruelty task force of the county to further investigate the incident. United Airlines have not informed the public of the punishment towards said cabin crew.
To make matters worse, this is not the first time that United Airlines have taken away the life of a pitiful dog. There was another case that happened a year ago on a domestic flight. A dog that was under the care of United’s PetSafe program passed away after flying in a crate in the plane’s hold due to its larger size.
How can travelers ever trust the airline with their pets again?
In the book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, the principle of equality between human and animals are defined by equal consideration. Consideration, not treatment. In the fight for animal rights, counterarguments have been brought up with the assertion that these beings are not able to reason or communicate. However, Jeremy Bentham, a well-known philosopher has once said that the ability to experience pain and agony is the element that gives a being “the right to equal treatment”. Human beings, from a biological standpoint, is also categorized as an animal.
We are all just living beings co-existing on the earth. The only distinction is our ability to do math, our ability to logical thinking as well as reasoning. With that said, people are only asked to provide equal consideration not treatment. It seems that the lack of consideration towards pet is just another evil attribute of mankind. Why is it so difficult for men to treat other beings how they would like to be treated? A little kindness goes a long way.
“When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife,” quoting Ingrid Newkirk, and animal rights activist and the founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization.
In memoriam Kokito, the precious ten-months-old French bulldog.
Featured image via flickr/ Tomás Del Coro