Sen. John Kennedy, like most Americans, was outraged when he read the news an English bulldog puppy had died in overhead storage on a United Airlines flight this week.
So outraged that he is proposing legislation to outlaw airlines from putting dogs and other animals in overhead bins. Officials would face significant fines if they do not comply.
“What happened to this pet was disgraceful. And I can’t imagine how the pet’s owner feels. But we need to get to the bottom of it,” Kennedy, who owns two dogs, told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
“And I know we have many important things to do, but this is important, too.”
I will be filing a bill tomorrow that will prohibit airlines from putting animals in overhead bins. Violators will face significant fines. Pets are family.— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) March 14, 2018
The Louisiana Republican also wrote a letter to United Airlines President J. Scott Kirby demanding information on how many animals have died recently while in the airline’s care.
More than a half million animals flew in 2017, nearly 140,000 of them on United flights. Of the 24 that died, 18 were on United flights. Delta and American reported two animal deaths apiece.
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“[Pets] should not be treated like insignificant cargo. Frankly, they shouldn’t be placed in the cargo hold much less an overhead bin,” Kennedy wrote in the letter to Kirby. “This pattern of animal deaths and injuries is simply inexcusable. For many people, pets are members of the family.”
Starting in April, United Airlines will issue brightly colored bag tags to customers traveling with in-cabin pets, it announced this week.