Planes, Dogs, and Sheep

Last week it was reported that a dog belonging to a passenger on a United Airlines flight died after it was stuck in the overhead bin on the orders of a member of the flight crew. Apropos of this, Mark Steyn asks the following question:

Why didn’t anyone on that United flight stand up for the dog and take it down from the overhead bin?

I can answer that question. Since 9/11, any member of airport staff or airline crew can squeal that a passenger isn’t being sufficiently compliant and security goons will rush in mob-handed, beat them, arrest them, and hit them with terror charges which have a good chance of sticking. In other words, you are expected to obey every instruction issued by flight crew immediately and without complaining or they will seriously fuck up your day and possibly your entire life.

The airport staff – particularly security people – and flight crew know this only too well, and are happy to wield this disproportionate power they’ve been granted. No doubt in the beginning some held back from exercising their full authority unless absolutely necessary, but you’ll always get some people – and attract more of them to the job – who take a perverse delight in barking orders at those who would otherwise knock their teeth in. Next time you’re in a British airport, watch the behaviour of those wearing hi-viz vests and carrying a walkie-talkie and ask yourself if they haven’t let power go to their heads.

So that’s why nobody intervened when the flight crew ordered the dog to be stowed in the locker overhead. Had anybody taken it down, the crew would have initiated a sequence of actions commensurate with the plane being hijacked and the authorities on the ground would have gone along with it. Having recently seen some poor sod have the absolute shit kicked out of him and dragged off a United Airlines by uniformed thugs, nobody wants the same thing happening to them. And I expect few people have the confidence that the police chief waiting at the destination, or subsequent judges, will side with them against the air crew. Many people think the purpose of the TSA and the power given to airline crews is intended to get Americans used to being compliant in front of uniformed authority figures, and I would probably agree. If that was the purpose, it seems to have worked well. If that dog were to be saved by passengers, we would have first seen the two officers who dragged that man off the flight last year accosted on the plane and beaten senseless. That would never happen in today’s environment, and Rover paid the price.


18 thoughts on “Planes, Dogs, and Sheep

  1. The security staff at Manchester Airport seem to be those who spent their entire school lives at the thick table. Now they are getting their own back. Complete morons, the lot of ’em.

  2. My experience of US airlines pre 9/11 is that the cabin staff were miserable authoritarians before they got that power, so its not a surprise that now they can exercise it without question they do. United had to be the worst of a bad bunch.

  3. “United had to be the worst of a bad bunch.”

    Yeap, that was my experience of them. A bunch of bitter, post wall females who hated passengers and only did the job for the pleasure of bossing people around and holding on for the pension.

  4. Shouldn’t the puppy have been transported in a pet box in the hold?

    I have never seen animals on planes other than places like PNG.

  5. I have never seen animals on planes other than places like PNG.

    From what I skimmed off Twitter, you can bring dogs into the cabin but the passenger didn’t comply with the requirements. So it was the passenger’s fault, in a way, but many reasonably believe the dog should not have been shoved in the overhead bin and left to die, and common sense should have prevailed. Common sense on a US airline? Heh.

  6. Appears you can in the US.

    “Every U.S. airline lets you carry small pets at least eight weeks old in the cabin for less than $100 each way. Dogs must be in an approved carrier (ask the airline for its recommendations) and fit under the seat in front of you. For most airlines, this will count as your one piece of carry-on luggage.”

  7. The dog travelled in the OHC by the passenger’s consent.

    Probably because like most travellers they can’t bear to be parted from their $67 bargain basement fare. It would never occur to these people to either (1) put the animal in the hold, which is better but costs money, (2) leave the aircraft for the sake of the animal but have to pay more for a new ticket, having purchased an appropriate cabin bag.

    The bag in the picture looks too big to go under a seat, so it has to go overhead. People don’t seem to understand that those large trolleys are slender for a reason – they can and do go under seats, and those late on the plane have to put up with their bag under their seat. That dog basket will not slide under so is not suitable for cabin transport of an animal.

  8. BiG,

    I agree that the whole thing started as a problem of a dumbass passenger, but was made worse by the dog dying. My post was really to answer Steyn’s question and complain about jumped-up Hitlers in uniforms.

  9. Certainly Hitler should have said “the dog isn’t flying in the cabin ma’am unless you have a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you.”

    It’s evidence of two peoples’ stupidity, which isn’t evidence of very much really.

  10. I occasionally had to fly because of my job, but now I’m retired I have no intention of going near an airport let alone a plane ever again. Flying is the most uncomfortable and anti-social means of transport ever devised by man, and that includes British Rail!

  11. I had to transfer thru Sydney a while ago, it felt like I’d wandered into 1984, people barking orders left and right, etc. (Literally “left” and “right” at one point.)

    I remember thinking, after the voice on the tannoy ordered me to assemble for boarding, “Whatever happened to please and thank you? And service with a smile?” I must be getting old.

  12. Why would you put it in the overhead locker? If it pees the passengers below presumably get showered. Also, is it being assumed that being in the locker was the cause of death? How does that work, then?

    Anyway, except for guide dogs, why do they carry woofers at all? Or cats, or pigs, or goats, …..

  13. Also, is it being assumed that being in the locker was the cause of death? How does that work, then?

    Lack of air, presumably. If it’s full, there won’t be much in there and they have sort of seals around. Not airtight, but probably not letting much fresh air in or old air out either.

  14. “If it’s full ..”: good God, would people leave their stuff in their with a dog? Thee’s no accounting for Yanks.

  15. It is a kind of weird story, the dog packaging was obviously non-compliant, the hosty may have been overly officious and the pup died. The owners should have stopped this, even if it meant getting off the plane.

    I took this photo one morning when flying out of Doha international, sent it to my sister in the UK and by the time I arrived at my destination she had sent back to me a link with the full spread Sun coverage of the same birds spread around the cabin! At least the sheikh paid for a number of seats to accommodate his falcons, not like those cheapskate yanks cramming their pup into a makeshift tomb.

  16. This sort of attitude is hardly confined to airlines & airport security. It seems to have spread across the UK. Try dealing with the NHS. You have a problem with them, they don’t apologise about the problem. Any deviance from scraping subservience gets a response that they don’t like the way you’re speaking to them & they won’t continue the interaction. Banks are the same.

  17. Any deviance from scraping subservience gets a response that they don’t like the way you’re speaking to them & they won’t continue the interaction.

    I can well believe it, I’ve seen this in French prefectures too.

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