Supermodel Maggie Rizer slams United Airlines for ‘killing’ her dog during cross-country flight

A stunning supermodel tells the Daily News she went “completely hysterical” after finding out her dog died on a cross-country United Airlines flight two weeks ago. Maggie Rizer, a covergirl who modeled for Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Calvin Klein, has become a reluctant face for pet rights after she says her pet, Bea, was killed from heat stroke on a flight between New York and San Francisco. “I was completely hysterical, I’m surprised I didn’t get arrested,” Rizer told the Daily News of her reaction after she heard about two-year-old Bea’s death. In keeping with United's pet safety rules, Bea and Albert, Rizer’s other dog, were cleared to fly by a veterinarian just four days before she and her husband flew home to California after vacationing on the East Coast, Rizer said. They had spent several days in New York before the flight, taking their dogs on long walks around the city, she said. Maggie Rizer via Twitter Rizer said an airline worker coldly lied to her about taking the dog to a vet for a necropsy. But when Rizer and her husband, businessman Alex Mehran, landed in San Francisco and went to pick up their dogs, United workers — who seemed more concerned with their cell phones — coldly told them Bea was dead and that “this happens a lot.” Rizer also claimed that workers lied to her about taking the dog to a local vet for a necropsy. In fact, her pet was lying dead in her travel crate "behind a closed door" in the cargo area, she said. “The only reason they would lie about that sort of thing is if they didn’t want us to do a necropsy,” she said. Rizer and Mehran finally recovered the two-year-old pup at 11 p.m., and a family vet's autopsy later showed the pooch had died of heat stroke, she said. Their plane had been delayed in New York and the captain told passengers to turn on their air vents to help circulate air, but Rizer believes Continue Reading

United Airlines accounted for a third of animal deaths on U.S. flights in last 5 years

The death of a giant rabbit on a United Airlines flight from London to Chicago focused the spotlight again on the carrier that has struggled with more than one-third of U.S. animal deaths aboard passenger flights during the last five years.United had 53 animals die on its flights from January 2012 through February 2017, the most recent month available, according to the Transportation Department’s Air Travel Consumer Report. That compared with a total of 136 animals that died on all flights of airlines.In a statement, United said it was saddened by news of the death of Simon, a 3-foot Continental Giant rabbit, on the flight to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.“The safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team,” United said in the statement. “We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter."The rabbit's breeder, Annette Edwards, said the animal had an exam three hours before the flight and was fit as a fiddle.The rabbit incident came after United was under scrutiny for dragging a passenger off a flight April 9 at O’Hare to make way for a crew member. The airline was also criticized for preventing two girls from boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis while wearing leggings considered inappropriate for using guess passes given to employees and their relatives.Onboard animal deaths don't necessarily mean an airline was negligent, as revealed in summaries of department investigations.Among the four deaths on United flights in January, a Jan. 28 incident involving Hope, a 9-year-old cat, was suspected as heart failure, according to the department. Rocco, a dog, died on a flight Jan. 21 from a cardiac abnormality due to congenital heart disease, according to the medical exam. Two geckos were found dead upon arriving at Raleigh-Durham airport on Continue Reading

Mystery as world’s-biggest-rabbit contender dies on United Airlines flight to O’Hare

LONDON — A giant rabbit died in unexplained circumstances on a United Airlines flight from Britain to Chicago in the latest unfortunate incident to hit the beleaguered airline, British media reported Wednesday.Simon, a 3-foot, 10-month-old Continental Giant rabbit, was found dead after the Boeing 767 landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport following its departure from London Heathrow, the Sun newspaper reported.Rabbit breeder Annette Edwards told the newspaper that the rabbit, which was likely to grow to be the biggest in the world after its father Darius held the title of the world’s biggest rabbit at 4ft 4in long, was being transported to its new celebrity owner. It wasn't immediately clear when the incident occurred and what caused the animal's death.“Simon had a vet’s check-up three hours before the flight and was fit as a fiddle,” Edwards told the Sun. “Something very strange has happened and I want to know what. I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before. The client who bought Simon is very famous. He’s upset.”In a statement, United said: “We were saddened to hear this news. The safety and wellbeing of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team. We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter."United was widely condemned after passenger David Dao, 69, was filmed earlier this month being violently dragged off a United flight at Chicago O’Hare International Airport by police to make room for a United crew member.Dao’s lawyer said he suffered a concussion and lost two teeth in the incident on April 9.United has apologized, refunded fares to passengers on the flight and said the airline will no longer ask police to remove passengers.Newly-released police Continue Reading

United Airlines Airbus A319 had only minor damage after emergency landing: official

The United Airlines jet that made a lopsided emergency landing at Newark Airport on Sunday suffered only minor damage, officials said Monday. The Airbus A319 miraculously skidded to a safe stop on the runway on just its nose and left landing gear. It lurched onto one side, shooting sparks as its engine dragged on the tarmac, but none of the 53 passengers and crew members aboard were injured during the dramatic 9:30 a.m. touchdown at one of the nation's busiest airports. The 68-ton bird was moved off the runway about 5:45 a.m. Monday so it could be inspected by the national Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and United Airlines. "There was only minor damage," said FAA spokesman Jim Peters, adding that the right engine covering and wing will need repairs. The agencies will investigate why the right landing gear didn't come down and lock into place. The NTSB will also review the jet's flight data recorder. There is no time line for when the investigation will wrap up, Peters said. "Certainly it's everyone's intention to do a thorough job that's as complete as possible so we understand what happened," he said. Passengers broke into cheers and applause on Sunday when the plane came to a safe stop. United Flight 634 from Chicago had been routine until it approached Newark, its final destination. "The pilot did a beautiful job," said passenger Jim Falk, 40, of Middletown, N.J. "He should be commended." Passengers were prepared for landing when the plane suddenly began ascending and started circling the airport. "Normally a big plane like that doesn't do a bypass, so we knew something was wrong," said Falk, who was sitting near the front. "Brace! Brace! Brace!" the pilot said over the intercom as passengers buried their heads in their laps poised for a crash landing. Falk and other passengers said the landing was "unbelievably smooth" considering the plane's condition. He said the crew remained incredibly calm. "They did a great job," Falk Continue Reading

United Airlines isn’t firing anyone over violent passenger removal

No one from United Airlines will be fired after a passenger was dragged from his seat and off a flight last week, touching off a national firestorm, CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday.Munoz said an internal investigation set to wrap up by the end of the month could yield more policy changes for the airline, which faced a barrage of criticism after video showing the removal of the passenger David Dao went viral on social media.Dao suffered a concussion, a broken nose and lost two teeth in the incident when Chicago aviation police dragged him off the flight, according to his lawyer Thomas Demetrio. Three officers have been placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.Because the incident aboard United Express Flight 3411 was a systemic problem, the company won't fire anyone in management — including Munoz — or its rank-and-file workers.“The buck stops here. I’m sure there was lots of conjecture about me personally," he said. "It was a system failure across various areas. No, there was never a consideration for firing an employee or anyone around it."MORE COVERAGE: United: Too early to say if bookings hurt by passenger-dragging incidentDao was one of four passengers removed from the sold-out flight to make room for airline crew members. Munoz repeated his apology Tuesday to Dao, other passengers on the flight and the rest of the airline's customers.“You can and should expect more from us, and as CEO I take full responsibility for making this right,” Munoz said.BY THE NUMBERS: The fleet and hubs of United Airlines (story continues below)The airline already offered refunds to passengers on the flight and said police will no longer be called to remove paid, seated passengers from flights, unless for safety or security issues, Munoz said. The airline will also require crews to be onboard flights at least 60 minutes Continue Reading

United Airlines is making these 10 customer-service policy changes

United Airlines on Thursday revealed its "Review and Action Report" recapping the April 9 incident aboard United Express Flight 3411. The report, which was promised by United CEO Oscar Munoz in the days following the incident, includes both a review of what led up to the incident and recommendations "to prevent a terrible event like this from happening again."Included in the report are 10 new or updated customer service polices meant to prevent episodes like the one that occurred on Flight 3411. Here are those changes, in United's words, as spelled out in the company's Flight 3411 "Review and Action Report."MAIN STORY: United pledges new protections for fliers in wake of passenger-dragging incident1. United will limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.United will not ask law enforcement officers to remove customers from flights unless it is a matter of safety and security. United implemented this policy on April 12. 2. United will not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.United implemented this policy on April 27. 3. United will increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000.United policy will be revised to increase the compensation levels up to $10,000 per customers willing to volunteer to take a later flight. This will go into effect on April 28. 4. United will establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutionsUnited will create a team to proactively identify and provide gate agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportation to get customers and crews to their final destinations. United expects the team to be operational by June. Examples include:- Suggest flights to close-by airports and then provide transportation to the customer's preferred destination.- If a customer's travel includes a connecting flight, provide options that Continue Reading

United Airlines pledges new protections for fliers in wake of passenger-dragging incident

United Airlines, acknowledging that "many things went wrong" on the day a passenger was dragged off one of its flights, pledged on Thursday a sweeping series of changes for passenger protection, including up to $10,000 compensation for travelers who voluntarily give up their seat on an overbooked flight.The move comes as the carrier has been beleaguered by a wave of negative press since a passenger was bloodied and forcibly removed from one its flights April 9. The incident on United Express Flight 3411 was captured on cellphone video and quickly went viral.The airline announced 10 new or updated customer service polices aimed at preventing episodes such as the one that occurred on that flight and released an "action report" on how the events on that ill-fated flight unfolded.."That breach of public trust is something we have to rework," United CEO Oscar Munoz said in an interview with USA TODAY, calling the service changes part of an effort "to ensure this never happens again."LIST: United Airlines' 10 customer-service policy changesAmong the changes, United said that starting Friday, employees will be able to offer up $10,000 to try to entice overbooked passengers to take different flights. United also said it would reduce overbooking. The airline did not give a specific number but said in its formal Flight 3411 "Review and Action Report" that it intended to limit the practice "on flights that historically have experienced lower volunteer rates, particularly flights on smaller aircraft and the last flight of the day to a particular destination."United also said that effective Thursday, it will no longer attempt to involuntarily remove passengers who’ve already boarded their flights “unless safety or security is at risk.” And the carrier is making permanent a policy it adopted April 12 that it will no longer call law enforcement officers to remove passengers except for in Continue Reading

United Airlines had a right to remove that flier. But should it have?

United Airlines found itself at the center of controversy Monday after a video posted on Facebook showed a passenger being forcibly removed from an overbooked flight Sunday at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.Several passengers reacted with horror as the man was pulled out of his seat and dragged toward the front of the plane by unidentified personnel. The flight from Chicago O'Hare to Louisville was operated by United Express affiliate Republic Airlines.United confirmed that a passenger had been taken off Flight 3411 on Sunday in Chicago, with CEO Oscar Munoz apologizing and pledging to “conduct our own detailed review of what happened.”The situation arose in part because United needed to get crewmembers onboard the sold-out flight so that they could get to Louisville to work a “downline connection,” said United spokesman Jonathan Guerin.But the video has made headlines across the country, giving United an unwanted public relations black eye, just two weeks after it was exposed to criticism for denying boarding to two girls traveling on a guest pass because they were wearing leggings. Making it worse was that the passenger in this case had already boarded the flight.“Once you’re offloading passengers who’ve already boarded so that you can get employees on the flight, you’d think they’d do just about anything to avoid that,” said Seth Kaplan, editor of the Airline Weekly trade publication.Others echoed the sentiment that United probably could’ve handled the situation better.“I’ve seen a lot in my 40 years covering and working for the airline industry, but this is historically bad public relations,” says George Hobica, president of Airfarewatchdog. “The burning question is why did they wait until everyone was seated before realizing they needed to move employees?”As for passengers, they have surprisingly few rights when flights are Continue Reading

United Airlines passenger dragged off flight suffered concussion, broken nose

A daughter of the Kentucky physician at the center of a global uproar over his forced removal from a United Airlines flight said Thursday that the family was "horrified, shocked and sickened" by the incident."What happened to my dad should never have happened to any human being, regardless of the circumstances," Crystal Pepper said at a news conference in Chicago.David Dao, 69, suffered a concussion, broken nose and damaged sinuses and lost two front teeth when he was dragged off a flight Sunday to make room for United personnel, lawyer Thomas Demetrio said. He said Dao has been released from the hospital and is staying in a "secure" location.A lawsuit will be filed at some point, and a hearing on preserving evidence is set for Monday in Chicago, Demetrio said. He also said United and other airlines have "bullied" customers for a long time."Dr. Dao, I believe to his great credit, has come to understand that he is the guy, he's the guy to stand up for passengers going forward," Demetrio said.Social media outrage rained down on the Chicago-based airline after videos emerged of Sunday night's violent confrontation on United Express Flight 3411 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, drawing hundreds of millions of views around the world.Demetrio called the video "rather disturbing." He said that neither United CEO Oscar Munoz nor other United officials have reached out to Dao. He also said he accepted Munoz's public apology — even though Demetrio called Munoz's appearance Wednesday on Good Morning America "staged.""I think his PR people said 'We're taking a beating here,'" he said. "I think he was told to get out there." Read more:After the news conference, United issued a statement saying Munoz and the company had called Dao "on numerous occasions" to apologize."We continue to express our sincerest apology to Dr. Dao," the statement said. "We cannot stress enough that we remain steadfast in our commitment to make this Continue Reading

Cleveland reacts to loss of United Airlines hub

CLEVELAND (AP) - State and local officials moved Sunday to assess the loss of 60% of United Airlines departures when the carrier drops its money-losing Cleveland hub.The state of Ohio said it would try to reverse the decision, which will cost 470 jobs.The loss had been feared at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport since United merged in 2010 with Continental, which had a hub in Cleveland.The city-owned airport said Sunday it would not comment on the cutbacks announced in a letter from the airline's CEO to United employees. FULL TEXT: United CEO's letter on cutting the Cleveland hub TODAY IN THE SKY: United Airlines axing its hub in ClevelandCleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's spokeswoman said Sunday the city is assessing the situation and will address the issue Monday."We received the information regarding United's announcement on air service reductions. We are reviewing the information and assessing the impact," spokeswoman Maureen Harper said in an email Sunday.COLUMN: United cuts Cleveland hub, blames connecting passengers and FAA (The Cranky Flier)Ed FitzGerald, executive for Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, said Sunday the county would help displaced workers and try to preserve air service."We will continue to focus on the future and work with the private sector and other government entities to increase air service to our area," he said in a statement.LOCAL REPORT: United says it will drastically cut flights from its unprofitable Cleveland hub (The Plain Dealer) Gov. John Kasich said Saturday night that the state would work to have United reconsider the decision."Hopefully this situation can be reversed over time and we're going to continue to work with United to try to eventually do that," he said."We've already set in motion outreach to the impacted employees and we'll have a team on the ground on Monday to start connecting them with the right state support and benefits."Joe Roman, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership Continue Reading