If you are moving overseas, you may have to transport your pet by air to your destination. Moving home is stressful enough without having to worry about your furry or feathered friend. But would you be worrying for nothing or could your pet run into trouble when flying in the cargo hold of an aeroplane?
United Airlines and Pets
Recent headlines regarding United Airlines certainly suggest that there is cause for concern. In the wake of an unsavoury incident which garnered the airline a great deal of bad publicity, mud throwers were determined to find any reason to criticise the company. Someone clearly decided to check the statistics on pet deaths to see if they could find any dirt there. On the face of it, they did!
The US Department of Transportation data which was uncovered revealed that more pets had died whilst flying with United than with any other airline in the US. 9 pets had died whilst in the care of United Airlines and 14 were injured during 2016.
The statistics were published after there was a public backlash following an incident during which a passenger, Dr David Dao, had been forcibly removed from his seat to make way for airline staff. The unfortunate Dr Dao had lost two teeth during the incident! Another passenger filmed the episode and the video went viral.
Damned Lies and Statistics
9 pet deaths do not inspire much confidence. The fatalities included a Yorkshire Terrier named Diamond, a Belgian Malinois named Bakry and an American Staffordshire Terrier named Winston. Those anxious to exact revenge on United Airlines must have been jumping for joy when they saw these statistics. But you know what they say – there’s lies, damned lies and then there are statistics. A closer look at the data reveals that United Airlines are not exactly killing animals regularly.
The Truth behind the Figures
United Airlines did indeed report more pet deaths and injuries than any other airline but they carried more pets than any other airline! 109,149 to be precise compared to delta’s 81,070. The incidence of death was actually incredibly low and on a par with other carriers.
The major airlines are well-practised at handling pets and generally provide an excellent service. Sometimes things do go wrong but this is often due to pre-existing health issues suffered by the pets or simply pure chance.
With hundreds of thousands of pets taking to the skies every year across the globe, it is inevitable that there will be the occasional unfortunate outcome. The same is true of human passengers. People occasionally have heart attacks and strokes whilst airborne and these rarely have anything to do with the conduct of the airlines.