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Senator plans to file bill prohibiting airlines from putting pets in overhead bins

United Airlines jets sat on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport in New York. Associated Press/Seth Wenig/File

A senator from Louisiana plans to file a bill Thursday to prohibit airlines from putting animals in overhead bins — a change he hopes will prevent future incidents like the one that allegedly occurred on a United Airlines flight earlier this week.

Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, wrote on Twitter Wednesday night that violators “will face significant fines.”

“Pets are family,” he wrote.

The proposed legislation would come just days after a United Airlines flight attendant allegedly forced a passenger to put her pet carrier in an overhead bin with her French bulldog inside. The dog was dead by the time the flight landed at LaGuardia Airport on Monday.


The airline apologized the next day, calling it “a tragic accident that never should have occurred.” On Wednesday, the airline added that the flight attendant did not know there was a dog inside the carrier.

In addition to his legislation, Kennedy sent a letter on Wednesday to J. Scott Kirby, the president of United Airlines, demanding an explanation for the number of animals that have died in United’s care. Last year, 18 animals died while being transported by the airline.

“This pattern of animal deaths and injuries is simply inexcusable,” Kennedy wrote in the letter. “For many people, pets are members of the family. They should not be treated like insignificant cargo. Frankly, they shouldn’t be placed in the cargo hold much less an overhead bin.”

Felicia Gans can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.