United suspends pet cargo flights

Alex Wong/Getty Images(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — United Airlines said it’s suspending a program for transporting pets in cargo holds.

The airline said it will stop accepting new reservations for its PetSafe program, though it will honor any reservations made through March 20.

Passengers can still carry small pets with them in carry-on luggage, the airline said.

The suspension comes as United reviews its pet transport policies, a process that should be completed by May 1, according to the airline.

The move follows recent incidents in which the airlines’ handling of animals has been called into question. A 10-month-old puppy died on a United flight last week after a flight attendant reportedly told a customer to put the dog in an overhead bin. Also last week, a dog bound for Kansas was accidentally sent to Japan. And on Friday, a United flight from Newark to St. Louis was diverted after the airline mistakenly placed a dog on the plane.

United had the highest rate of pet deaths of any U.S. airline for the past three years.