Sen. John Kennedy Introduces Bill Barring Airlines from Storing Animals in Overhead Bins

In this photo made Thursday, July 9, 2009, a dog waits in a kennel during a training session for Pet Airways in Omaha, Neb. On the first-ever all-pet airline started by husband-and-wife team Alysa Binder and Dan Wiesel, dogs and cats will fly in the main cabin of a Suburban …
AP Photo/Dave Weaver

A U.S. senator from Louisiana introduced a bill Thursday that would prohibit airlines from storing live animals in the overhead compartments on flights.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act (WOOFF), calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make a regulation prohibiting airlines from storing live animals in the overhead bins on flights:

The bill would also allow the agency to impose civil fines to carriers that violate the regulation.

Kennedy proposed the legislation just days after a dog died on a United Airlines flight Monday evening because an airline attendant stowed the animal in an overhead bin.

United’s policy on pets traveling aboard the aircraft states that all animals traveling inside the cabin “must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel” that must fit under the passenger’s seat and be kept there for the duration of the flight.

The airline had been criticized in recent years for having so many animals die on board its aircraft. In 2016, more pets died on United than any other airline.

A year later, the airline was sued for negligence after a giant rabbit died while in transit and was created without the owner’s knowledge.

The Louisiana senator penned a letter Tuesday to “demand” that United provide an “explanation” for why so many animals have died aboard its flights.

“I write to demand an immediate explanation for the number of animals who have died recently in United Airlines’ care,” Kennedy wrote in a letter to the airline’s president, Scott Kirby, on Wednesday.

“This pattern of animal deaths and injuries is simply inexcusable,” Kennedy added. “For many people, pets are members of the family. They should not be treated like insignificant cargo.”

A United spokesperson released a statement saying that the airline would take “full responsibility” for the incident:

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.

Just days after the dog died on the United flight, the airline also faced backlash for flying a German shepherd to Japan on Tuesday instead of its intended destination of Kansas.


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