United told the Associated Press on Tuesday that it will halt PetSafe reservations while it reviews the service that allows customers to ship their pets as cargo.
"It is to further minimize risk and further increase the comfort and well-being of the animals that we carry and finding the best way to do things". The carrier will honor PetSafe reservations through March 20, but will not accept any new reservations.
United recently announced in a separate move that it would impose stricter rules on emotional support animals flying in cabins, after one passenger tried to take a peacock onboard. United said it will also assist any customer that wants to cancel an existing reservation.
Chicago-based United diverted a plane to Akron, Ohio, on Thursday after discovering it had mistakenly loaded a dog aboardthe flight from Newark, N.J., to St. Louis. The most tragic involved a pet travelling in the passenger cabin that died after being placed in an overhead bin on a Houston-New York flight on 12 March.
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United Airlines has suspended its animal shipment services while it conducts an internal investigation into its PetSafe travel program, the company said in a statement Tuesday. United said it compensated the passengers on that flight for the diversion, although it's unclear how they were compensated.
The airline said it would complete the review by May 1.
It carried about 42 percent more animals in the cargo hold in 2017 than in 2015, and it accounted for about 27 percent of all animals USA airlines transported a year ago, according to the DOT.
United announced last week that to avoid a repeat of the dog dying in an overhead bin, it will put brightly colored tags on carriers containing pets in plane cabins.
In 2017, 18 animals died in United's care, three-fourths of all such deaths on USA airlines.