A French bulldog has died onboard a United plane after a flight attendant forced it to spend more than three hours crammed into an overhead bin, the New York Post reports.
According to one passenger on the New York–bound flight from Houston, a woman travelling with two young children brought the dog onto the plane in a TSA-approved pet carrier. A flight attendant then demanded the family put the ten-month-old puppy in the overhead compartment for the duration of the flight.
"They INSISTED that the puppy be locked up for three hours without any kind of airflow," June Lara, who was on the flight, wrote on Facebook. "They assured the safety of the family's pet so wearily, the mother agreed."
Fellow passenger Maggie Gremminger also took to social media to detail the shocking incident.
"Tonight I was on a plane where I witnessed a @united flight attendant instruct a passenger to place her dog carrier (with dog) in the overhead compartment. The passenger adamantly refused but the flight attendant went on with instruction," Ms Gremminger wrote on Facebook.
"At the end of the flight — the dog was found (dead) in the carrier. I am heartbroken right now. I didn't question the flight attendant, but I could have."
"I assumed there must be ventilation as surely the flight attendant wouldn't have instructed this otherwise. I heard the dog barking a little and we didn't realise it was barking a cry for help."
She said she was "disgusted and traumatised" by the pup's death.
"Pets are family," she added. "How could a trained flight attendant instruct a passenger to place her dog in that bin. It was her job to understand the plane and its rules/limitations."
The incident sparked a flurry of angry comments on social media, prompting the carrier to issue an apology in which they take "full responsibility" for the pup's death.
"This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin," a spokesman for United said.
"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."
It's not clear why the carrier was not placed under a seat.