How Delta reduced its in-flight pet deaths

The death of a puppy in the overhead bin on a United Airlines flight has drawn attention to the fact that more pets died on United flights last year than on any other airline by far.

But several years ago, the story was quite different. In 2011, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines had 19 pet deaths reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation, significantly more than any other airline. American Airlines had five pet deaths that year, and United had two. To be sure, the report of the death of a pet in an airline cabin is unusual, and reported deaths generally occur with pets checked into cargo holds.

Last year, the tables had turned: Delta had two reported deaths, compared with United’s 18. Delta managed to reduce its number of pet deaths after it restricted snub-nosed or pug-nosed pets like bulldogs and pugs, limited how pets can travel and improved training of employees and information relayed to travelers about how to prepare animals for flights. “As pets are important members of their families, Delta continues to review and update travel options to ensure their safety on all of our flights,” Delta spokesman Anthony Black said in a written statement.

More on Delta’s restrictions on pets: