Report: United Airlines reaches settlement for dog that died in - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Report: United Airlines reaches settlement for dog that died in overhead bin

Posted: Updated: May 24, 2018 11:14 AM

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United Airlines has settled with a family whose French bulldog died after being placed in an overhead bin on one of the carrier's flights, celebrity news website TMZ reported Thursday.

The death of the 10-month old dog occurred after a passenger brought the pet on board a March flight in a TSA-compliant pet carrier. But, after the passenger was seated, a United flight attendant is said to have insisted that the pet carrier -- and dog -- must be stowed in an overhead bin instead of underneath the flier's seat, as is standard practice.

Kokito, the dog, was found dead from suffocation after the flight from Houston arrived to Newark.

The Rebledo family that owned the dog had been considering a lawsuit against the carrier, multiple media outlets reported earlier this month.

Now, according to the TMZ report, the family has reached a settlement with United, although terms were not revealed.

"We are deeply sorry for this tragic accident and have worked with the Robledo family to reach a resolution," United spokesman Charles Hobart said to USA TODAY when asked if United could confirm TMZ's report.

BY THE NUMBERS: The fleet and hubs of United Airlines (story continues below)

United had already publicly apologized for the incident, which also prompted it to suspend and ultimately revamp its policy on the types of animals eligible to fly in its cargo hold. Some breeds were banned outright.

"In March, we began a comprehensive review of our transportation of animals," Hobart said. "We also recently announced our collaboration with American Humane to make significant improvements in our program and adhere to the best practices of animal comfort, well-being and travel on behalf of our customers and their pets."

However, the change to the cargo-hold policy would not have applied to Kokito, who had been flying with its owners in the cabin.

The incident was the latest in a string of high-profile episodes that have challenged United's public relations team during the past year. The April 2017 passenger-dragging incident with Dr. David Dao was perhaps the highest profile, but -- among others -- there have also been multiple mishaps with pets and an employee lottery plan that fell flat when it was introduced as a replacement for worker bonuses.

Now, United has a new public relations chief to help it navigate - or, hopefully, avoid - such public relations crises.

The Chicago-based carrier has tapped former White House press secretary Josh Earnest for the company's top communications role.

With the title of "senior vice president and chief communications officer,' Earnest took the reigns at United this week.

Earnest is probably best known to most Americans for his eight-year stint at the White House, where he served first as deputy press secretary and later as the White House Press Secretary under President Barack Obama.

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