It seems lately that the major airlines are going to the dogs. There was the recent controversy over fake companion animals (some of which attacked passengers, or created other problems for the airlines). Then there was the dog that tragically suffocated after a United Airlines flight attendant forced a passenger to place the dog in its TSA-approved carrier into an overhead storage compartment.
This week brought news of another major airline in-air dog snafu, but this time an 8-week-old puppy transported by United Airlines.
On Saturday, a breeder put Josh Schlaich's new, 8-week-old, white and brindle puppy on a flight from Richmond, Virginia to Boise, Idaho. However, as Josh anxiously awaited the arrival of his new dog, he says that he received a call from someone who claimed to be a Delta Air Lines employee. According to Josh, the Delta employee informed him that the flight carrying his puppy was delayed and the dog would have to spend the night "here," which turned out to be Detroit.
Josh posted what happened next on his Facebook page:
"Was then given the number of the boarding facility - a disconnected line. Was not given a call back number by Detroit person, and the customer service would not give me their direct line. Tried calling Delta Cargo customer service, only to be yelled at by the rep and hung up on. No idea where my dog is, or what conditions he'll be placed under for the next 24 or more hours. Don't know when he will come into Boise tomorrow. No idea who to call. Absolutely ridiculous customer service."
To put the icing on this particular cake, when Josh showed up at the Boise airport on Sunday, the Delta Cargo worker gave Josh the wrong dog. As it turned out, there were two puppy's on the flight -- litter mates from the same breeder in Virginia.
Fortunately, Josh did finally get his puppy Sunday night, and the dog appears to be no worse for its extended trip. Delta took responsibility for the mix up. According to a Delta spokesperson,
"We know pets are important members of the family and apologize for the delayed shipment of a dog, which is now in the hands of its owner, after it was routed to the wrong destination. We have fully refunded the shipping costs and have initiated an immediate review procedures to understand what happened."
For his part, Josh was happy that Delta employees eventually put their focus on uniting him with his new puppy. Said Josh on Facebook:
"I appreciate their investigation and efforts into resolving the issue and deploying preventive measures to avoid future issues. We all know that organizations are made up of people - people that can innocently make errors and sometimes be careless with details. Regardless, pup seems happy and healthy, bringing him to the vet today. Thank you all.
Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, the major airlines will put a bit more effort on taking care of all of their passengers -- humans and animals -- and there will be a lot fewer stories about dogs having problems on airplanes.