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United reviewing pet travel following incidents

United Airlines is reviewing its policies for pet travel in aircraft cargo holds following a series of incidents in recent days.

The Chicago-based carrier will not take any new reservations for pets travelling in cargo holds as part of its PetSafe programme until the review is complete, which is expected by 1 May, it says in an employee newsletter today. All reservations confirmed before 20 March will be honoured.

"We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our programme for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets," United says in the newsletter.

The review follows three high profile incidents involving pets travelling on United flights. 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.

Since the death, the airline has mistakenly sent a dog bound for Kansas City to Japan, and diverted a flight to Akron/Canton after another dog was boarded on the wrong aircraft.

United will continue to allow pets that travel in the passenger cabin on flights during the review.

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