British Airways has been accused of accidentally flying a couple’s pet dog 7,000 miles in the wrong direction to Saudi Arabia after its kennel was mistakenly loaded onto the incorrect plane.
Madison and James Miller were relocating from England to Nashville, Tennessee, on December 1 and had planned for their five-year-old rescue dog Bluebell to fly in the cargo hold of the same flight that James was a passenger on.
But IAG Cargo, which manages freight on behalf of British Airways, accidentally loaded Bluebell’s kennel on a flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Madison and James had no idea Bluebell wasn’t on their flight until they arrived in Nashville.
Following the realisation that Bluebell had been loaded on the wrong aircraft, the Miller’s demanded a ‘proof of life’ photo. They received a picture of their dog, alive and well, peering through a cage.
The couple now claim Bluebell is “traumatised” following her experience. After arriving in Saudi Arabia, the poor canine had to be flown all the way back to Heathrow before being loaded on a third flight to Nashville.
In total, Bluebell spent around 60 hours in transit before being reunited with her owners.
Thankful to have their dog back and in one piece, James said that was only the start of their problems.
“We did everything right moving Bluebell to America with us, and it’s been an absolute nightmare. The first time we tried to leave her at home alone after the ordeal she ripped through her kennel in the first 10 minutes,” the 27-year-old Briton told The Mirror.
“The next time she chewed through a wooden door crying the whole time. So now we can’t leave her – she could harm herself. Being apart from us is too traumatic for her.”
James says Bluebell is now working with a pet behaviourist to “help calm her anxiety”. Bluebell is currently taking anti-anxiety medication three times a day.
“We don’t know if she’ll ever be the same. It’s breaking our hearts,” James continued.
A spokesperson for IAG Cargo apologised for what had happened and reassured the couple that “every dog that travels long-haul with transfers will be checked and their water bowls replenished”.
The airline subsidiary also noted that after arriving back at Heathrow, Bluebell was taken to a special Animal Reception Centre where staff “cared for Bluebell, allowing her to stretch her legs, and receive refreshments prior to her onward journey home.”
British Airways has offered 50,000 frequent flyer Avios points as compensation, but the Miller’s have declined the offer. Instead, they are calling on the airline to cover a range of expenses, including vets fees and behavioural therapy that could top $10,000.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.