Passenger Maggie Gremminger told aviation website One Mile at a Time that the pet owner "adamantly pushed back" on the flight attendant's demand for the dog to go in the overhead compartment before complying. "I heard the dog barking a little and we didn't realise it was barking a cry for help". "My heart is broken".
Gremminger said that the passenger was adamant about not putting her dog in the overhead bin, but the flight attendant continued to ask the passenger to put the dog in the carrier and place it in the cargo hold.
"This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin", Maggie Schmerin, a spokeswoman for United Airlines, said in a statement.
Lara said that when the plane eventually landed three hours later and the owner, who was with her two young children, opened the overheard luggage, the dog was dead.
She says the dog remained in the bin for the three-hour flight, and wasn't given any water, ABC News reported. It was found dead when the plane landed in NY and the owner opened the luggage bin. "There was no movement as his family called his name", Lara wrote.
'We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them.
United said it was investigating what happened to prevent it from ever happening again.
According to United's website, its policy for onboard pets is: "A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. I could not see it, as I was already in my seat, but it sounded like it was somehow not completely fitting beneath the seat in front of her", according to Gremminger.