The flight attendant who caused a dog to die by placing it in an overhead locker was allegedly unaware an animal was in the container.
United Airlines provoked worldwide outrage after a 10-month-old French bulldog died on one of its US flights last week. A flight attendant forced Kokito's owners to place his carry case in an overhead bin for the duration of the three-hour flight, saying that the carrier was blocking the aisle.
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When the plane landed in New York City, the dog's owners found the puppy dead in his carrier after apparently suffocating in the locker.
The story caused international uproar, with a US senator even introducing a bill to protect pets from meeting a similar fate.
Now United is claiming the flight attendant didn't realise the dog was inside the carrier when she placed it in the overhead locker.
"We have learned that the customer did tell the flight attendant that there was a dog in the carrier," the airline said in a statement.
"However, our flight attendant did not hear or understand her, and did not knowingly place the dog in the overhead bin. As we stated, we take full responsibility and are deeply sorry for this tragic accident."
United has refunded Kokito's owners the cost of their plane tickets as well as the standard pet carrier fee.