The airline had the worst record for pet deaths on U.S. planes in 2016, Transportation Department data shows.Months after the highly publicized death of a giant rabbit on a United Airlines flight, the company is facing heat for the death of another animal on one of its jets.
Lulu, a 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, died Sunday in the cargo hold of a United flight from Houston to San Francisco, her owners said.
The Rasmussen family from Houston said a veterinarian had cleared their dog for air travel in the days before the flight, according to The Washington Post. The flight was delayed for two hours on the tarmac in Houston and there had been air-conditioning issues in the cabin during this time, the family added.
The temperature in the Texas city had soared to over 90 degrees on Sunday. It’s unclear whether Lulu was on the plane while the flight was delayed.
In an apology to the family, United Airlines said that it was conducting a “thorough review” into the dog’s death.
“We are so sorry to learn of Lulu’s passing and have reached out to our customer to offer our condolences and assistance,” United said in a statement this week. “We are deeply upset any time an animal suffers an injury while travelling with us and especially grieved in the rare instance that one passes away.”
Data from the Department of Transportation shows United had the worst record among U.S. airlines for pet deaths in 2016, with a total of nine dead ― eight dogs and a kitten ― and 14 injured animals.
In April, United came under fire after a giant rabbit named Simon died while in the airline’s care. Simon’s owners sued United last month for negligence and for “improperly cremating” the rabbit without their consent. Simon, who was in the running for the title of world’s largest rabbit, had been on his way to the Iowa State Fair from Britain.
Last month, rapper ScHoolboy Q claimed United mistakenly sent his dog to the wrong city, thousands of miles away from the intended actual destination. The rapper told CNN that his dog was flown to Chicago instead of Burbank, California.