Dog Dies in Overhead Bin on United Airlines Flight


By Laura Lassen, Dog Safety Activist

A 10-month old French Bulldog died on United Airlines after a flight attendant insisted on placing the dog in an overhead bin on a flight lasting over three hours.

The incident was a “tragic accident that should never have occurred,” according to United Airlines, who was also responsible for 18 of the 24 animal deaths in 2017. In a round of apologies, United added that they “assume full responsibility for this tragedy.”

Catalina Robledo and her daughter Sophia Ceballos initially placed their puppy, Kokito, in the appropriate carry-on bag on March 12th before takeoff. However, the bag could not fit underneath their seat, so a flight attendant declared that it had to go in the overhead bin, which lacked light and circulation. Despite protests from the family and surrounding passengers, who all desperately argued that Kokito was inside the bag, the flight attendant forced them to place the dog in the overhead bin anyway.

The flight was from Houston, Texas to New York. After Kokito barked inside the overhead compartment for the first two hours, he stopped. When the plane landed about an hour and a half later, the traumatized family found him dead in the carry-on.

“It’s really sad how someone’s stupidity can cost the life of an animal,” said Ricky Wallert, sophomore.

United claims that the flight attendant did not understand that Kokito was inside the bag and that she was devastated after hearing about his death. Organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals demand that the flight attendant should “be fired and charged with animal cruelty,” according to an article from the Los Angeles Times. Senators John Kennedy and Catherine Cortez Masto proposed the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act, which would “prohibit airlines from putting animals in overhead baggage compartments.” Additionally, the district attorney’s office in Houston will further investigate the case.

United Airlines plans to create a new policy in which any on-board luggage with animals be identified with a bright tag so that no future pets share Kokito’s unfortunate end.

This is not the only recent controversy surrounding United and their care of passengers and pets. In another incident the day after, United accidentally shipped a 10-year-old German Shepherd headed for Kansas City to Japan. The dog, named Irgo, was switched with a Great Dane that ended up in Kansas City instead. Both dogs survived, but Irgo suffered without water for the flight to Japan that lasted for 16 hours. Four days later, United flew Irgo back to the states on a private jet, where he was reunited with his family at the Wichita airport in Kansas.

Students at WHHS feel strongly about these recent events with United Airlines.

“I think United as a whole is a mess,” said sophomore Ashlynn Kim.

“Each scenario in the last year is because of the protocols,” added sophomore Lindsey Baratta. “It’s never the people, it’s the protocols.”